Today, I’m working on a new project for National Theatre Wales. It doesn’t even have a stable title yet but we’re looking at questionnaires and personality profiling. As so often is the way I found my way back to Adam Curtis. Marx may have provided the best analysis for economic and political realities in the 19th century. For the 21st, it’s Adam Curtis. Of course, it’s easy to snipe at the tangents, hidden histories and elisions in some of his films. But he articulates and dramatises the connectedness of the different forms of power in a way no one else does. Alan Greenspan sat at Ayn Rand’s knee in the 50s. The medical establishment riding roughshod over Henrietta Lack and her family.
I found this post
and the first video is a fantastic summary of BF Skinner’s work on behaviour. (And incidentally is a stunning critique of gamification in a section that compares humans playing bingo with pigeons pecking on lights to trigger rewards. Skinner even says, ‘industry would give anything to be able to hire people to behave that way’: in 1968!)
We’re looking a lot at Hans Eysenck and how his work links to the Neuro Personality Poll that helped get Bill Clinton re-elected against most odds in 1996. I’ve already had an inspiring conversation with Dr Kelly Page at Cardiff Business School who has offered to help us in understanding current practice in profiling. She pointed out that behavioural profiling is now used more than personality profiling because of the situational elements of our behaviour. As the Stanford Prison Experiment (and our own Kidnap project) showed, when people are put into different situations our behaviour changes much more readily and extensively than we would like to admit. For most of us, the prison guard lurks close to the surface.
Now if we can just whip this inchoate set of strands into a web app based on questionnaires and personality profiles down the ages, that amusingly skewers the military industrial complex, while reaching a diverse audience of welsh people, our work will be done.