Ping (zestyping) wrote,

How i learned to love being watched.

Imagine an experiment where two people participate in a speed date. They are told that their conversation is being monitored by a computer, and they each get a feedback display that gives them advice about how they're doing. A new advice message appears every couple of minutes.

With private advice, each participant gets advice that says "you should talk more" or "you should talk less" or "you should ask more questions", and they only see advice about themselves.

With public advice, both participants see advice for both participants, of the form "Tom should talk less" or "Mary should ask more questions" and so on.

When advice is given with reasons, the advice is preceded by an explanation such as "Computer analysis determines that you should speak more" or "Linguistic analysis determines that Mary should ask fewer questions".

When advice is given without reasons, the advice is just stated as a command like "you should talk less" or "Tom should ask more questions."

Okay. Under the four possible conditions, how do you think the participants felt about surveillance?

Poll #717577 How i learned to love being watched.

In which condition did they feel the least monitored?

private advice, without reasons
private advice, with reasons
public advice, without reasons
public advice, with reasons
all about the same

In which condition did they feel the least self-conscious?

private advice, without reasons
private advice, with reasons
public advice, without reasons
public advice, with reasons
all about the same
This study was explained in a paper presented at CHI today by Erica Robles. Surprisingly, the participants felt the least self-conscious and the least monitored when the advice was public, as long as reasons were given. And it was a dramatic difference compared to all the other conditions, which were about the same.

Their conclusion: giving people reasons (even completely bogus reasons) why you're monitoring them can make them much more comfortable with surveillance.
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