Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Power of Responsibility

Langer and Rodin in 1976 theorized that by increasing control and power an individuals happiness and health should increase. They conducted their study at a resting home and gave half of the participants increased-responsibility treatment while the others were left to the normal routine. The results of the study showed that by giving these participants this training the participants health and happiness increased. After the researchers returned 18 months later another significant thing occurred. 30% of the participants not involved in the treatment had died, while in the group that had received the treatment only 15% had died. Keep in mind that the demographics and characteristics of the groups were the same. Personal power and control over one's life is key to how happy and productive an individual will be.

On the flip side another study that came out of this was the idea of having too many choices can decrease happiness. Iyengar and Lepper in 2000 conducted a study in which participants where given the option to buy jams and chocolates and to do an extra credit essay. One group of the participants was given 6 choices while the other group was given 24 or 30 choices. The results showed that when fewer choices were presented a significant amount of participants would buy the chocolate and write the essay. It was also found that those who had fewer choices were more satisfied with their choices.

In writing about our characters they will be presented with choices and decisions to make generally they can choose to accept the quest or not choose the quest. However, it would be interesting to write into our stories more choices for our characters to choose from. More ways to slay the dragon. Show that the characters have the ability to choose and that they have responsibility for that choice. Also it would be interesting to see how they would react when given to many choices. There is a story about some Russian women who came to the U.S and were taken to the grocery store to see how they would react. Many of the women became upset and wanted to go home. There were to many choices for them to make. How do our characters behave coming out of orphanages (or a number of other confining institutions) and into a new world full of responsibilities?

Tidbit: I love all kinds of music (except for RAP never have liked it) some of my favorite is actually "scream" (in very very very small doses). I like the contrast actually and the emotion that is in it. Below is a youtube video of  another type of music that is definitely at the top of my list. I don't know the name of the genre but it is when orchestras play rock. I hope you enjoy this piece it blew me away :)


  1. ugh guess you did not...

    i love that music...metallica actually did a album with the symphony....and the muse does some really cool stuff as well...

    this challenge might be a bit hard actually so as not to get caught up in too much mental diatribe...

  2. This is a great point that you have Brian!

  3. It would be difficult to have a 'real' MC who has a bunch of trials...although there are 'real' people out there who have surpassed some pretty yucky situations. Nice post!

  4. Sometimes the hard choice isn't picking the good from the bad. It is trying to pick the better from the good. I love the idea of there being multiple choices. I feel like there is sometimes an overabundance of prophecies in fantasy novels and maybe playing around with choices in that instance could make for an interesting novel.

    I love this kind of music. You should give Apocalyptica, Kronos Quartet, Tran-siberian Orchestra, and Two Steps from Hell a listen. You'll probably like them.

  5. What an excellent way to look at characters. BTW...I find the study information very intriguing. I will definitely apply this choice making to the characters in my upcoming wip.
    Thanks for the info and tips.


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