I had just written a piece based on a report in New Scientist about hypnosis and how different groups of people can respond differently to it. I then came across a reference to a term called ‘Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem’ which caused me to elaborate on my original idea.
Here’s the original piece about hypnotism:
My Manchester-bound train pulling into Milton Keynes station reminded me of a piece of recent research by the university there studying the effect of hypnosis.
In my teachings on creative thinking I put forward the model of Red and Green Light thinking, a model I felt necessary to contrast with a simplistic and misleading description of left and right brain.
Research by Peter Naish of the Open University (‘New Scientist’ January 23rd 2010) has shed further insight in to the workings of the brain by examining how different people respond to hypnosis.
The study reveals that 15% of people are thought to be extremely susceptible to hypnosis while another 10% are almost impossible hypnotise.
The rest fall somewhere in between.
Naish suggests that successful hypnosis requires a temporary domination by the brain’s right side, [identified as the artistic side in contrast to the more rational left side of the brain] a state possibly easier to bring about in people who have an imbalance in the efficiency between their two brain hemispheres.
Some thoughts for creativity and communication could be that when asking people to accept new things is there a 15% of the population more receptive to new ideas, and equally a die hard core resistant to newness?
Does the research also confirm the different capabilities and strengths among different people when it comes to their creative and flexible thinking: are there some more naturally attuned Green or Red Light Thinkers?
Anyway, an interesting muse which can be further developed by finding out about Arrow’s impossibility theorem, or Arrow’s paradox.
Ostensibly designed to demonstrate how no voting system can convert the ranked preferences of individuals into a community-wide ranking while also meeting a certain set of criteria with three or more discrete options to choose from.
The nub of it is how it is impossible to get a single universal response which is ‘fair’ ‘fair’ voting system can satisfy three key criteria: If every voter prefers X over Y, then the group prefers X over Y; if every voter’s preferences between X and Y remain unchanged when Z is added to the list, then the group’s preference between X and Y will also remain unchanged; there is no dictator.
Named after the Nobel-winning economist Kenneth Arrow his theorem predicates how if any decision-making body has at least two members and at least three options to decide among, then it is impossible to design a social welfare function that satisfies all these conditions at once.
In my research on this subjject I also come across the word ‘monotonicity’ which the disctionary describes as a succession of sounds or words uttered in a single tone of voice. A chant in a single tone or a sameness or dull repetition in sound, style, manner, or colour
So, it would seem to be a very cutting insult to a communicator of high intellect to describe their communications as ‘monotinistic’ – or some other variation of the word. You would seemingly be inferring their communications are one dimensional – and ultimately uninteresting.
Yet, taking into account Arrow’s theorem and our new insight on how hypnosis affects different people, are most communicators ‘monotinistic’?
I tend to witness communications which seeks to sum up a view, represent a case in just one go; it’s just given one shot.
Whereas, as we now understand from hypnosis that we may have a model for people being responsive to messages about change, that you are going to get some people with a propensity to support and go along with you, a hard core who will be resistant, and a majority in the middle, either inert or following the coat-tails of the groups at either extreme.
Should communicators follow a law of flexibility in their messages shaping four different messages if you are seeking to create change:
You will like this new thing on offer?
You could recognise others are saying ‘Yes’ to this new thing
Don’t be persuaded by those who are saying ‘No’
Don’t feel threatened. If you feel ‘No’ is your answer, it is not important to make this a public issue.
As communicators do you need to tailor a range of flexible messages, and be aware of your monotonic tendencies?