Friday, February 6, 2009

This American Life...Ruining It for the Rest of Us

I'm secretly addicted to This American Life. (Why is it a secret? I guess it's not. I'm not ashamed. It's not like the secret that I really wish I...oh wait, I can't share that. That's a real secret.)

I think Ira Glass is funny. I love all the quirky personalities, the comedy, the serious segments. Sometimes there's a dud or two, but most of the time it's excellent company while I run.

So I was listening to an episode last week. This is the episode in question. The prologue was fascinating. Basically, a researcher wanted to see what happened when a bad apple joined a small group...how would the group respond? He hired an actor to act one of three personality types: a jerk, a lazy guy, or someone who was depressed. This actor would join a group of three other students who were asked to do a task of some sort together. The results were amazing. The guy took down every group he was in except for one. The productivity dropped. The group dynamic suffered.

But in one group, there was a student who took charge. The researcher says that he was just a natural leader who wouldn't let the mood in the group be dictated by negativity. He kept the spirits up, he asked questions of the other students to redirect them from the actor's snide comments. Their group actually performed better than the control groups, despite the actor's efforts.

It may be the optimist in me, but I'm glad there was a positive spin on the research after all. Someone around us might be a jerk, might be dragging down the group, but it is possible to change that. Hooray for optimism.

Oh, and you have to listen to Act Two. Hilarious.

And since I'm on the This American Life bandwagon, here's another of my favorites: Music Lessons. Oh my goodness. David Sedaris is always funny, and his story is great. Sarah Vowell is also super funny. And then Anne Lamott's segment made me cry. In the middle of my run. I love Anne Lamott.

1 comment:

Camilla said...

Okay, I've never heard of either of those shows, but they sound interesting. What channel? What time?