So after a long day and drive home from work, something from college occurred to me (hey I did get something out of it!). Anyone familiar with the Stanford Prison Experiment?
In the SPE, the first "prisoner" to be released suffers, basically, a nervous breakdown. Prior to the overall breakdown, this prisoner goes to Zimbardo to complain of his suffering, anxiety, etc. and get released from the experiment (although very quickly both guards and prisoners stop calling it an "experiment", because it became a real prison to them). Anyway, Zimbardo (who also quickly took on a group role and became enmeshed in the group process as well), cleverly uses his words to convince the prisoner to stay, yet doesn't techinically lie to the prisoner…Zimbardo gives the impression that the prisoner may not simply leave so easily; yet, all the while, the prisoner has committed to an experiment and actually had the absolute right to leave. Zimbardo wins the moment and the prisoner returns to his cell, thinking he can't leave.
Here's the good part. This prisoner tells the other prisoners that "no one can leave" "we can't get out of here".
Zimbardo never said that, yet it made its way quickly through the group and became a "known fact" – albeit a cleverly manufactured "fact".
So, many groups use "pray on it", and I hear this one does too. Or, referring to a Bible verse and leaving the decision up to the member (as if they really have a choice in the matter, facing certain disdain, criticism, or possible ostracism). It seems to be a form of "plausible deniability". So clever. I'm really looking forward to comments on this one because the effects are so dynamic in the group setting.
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