Burp (2014) (Bailey Kennedy, featuring Skylar)
PISCHIN. I’m full-blooded and have already had two strokes; it’s hard for me to dance, but, as they say, if you’re in Rome, you must do as Rome does. I’ve got the strength of a horse. My dead father, who liked a joke, peace to his bones, used to say, talking of our ancestors, that the ancient stock of the Simeonov-Pischins was descended from that identical horse that Caligula made a senator… [Sits] But the trouble is, I’ve no money! A hungry dog only believes in meat. [Snores and wakes up again immediately] So I… only believe in money…
~Anton Chekhov [source]
Eleanor Rigby (1972) (Ray Charles)
Another tragic example concerns lonely people. The lonely are interesting because it’s so tempting to say: ‘Oh, lonely people. Yeah, those are just losers, or whatever. Those are people who can’t make friends.’ Actually, the data suggests that the vast majority of lonely people don’t lack any social skills at all. It’s just they found themselves in lonely situations.
You move to a new town and you don’t really know anybody. How do you meet people? It’s hard to meet people. The longer that persists, now the longer you’ve been lonely, and then — this is the key part with the lonely and the busy and the money and the poor — now that you’re in that state, your behavior changes, and the way your behavior changes seems to keep you in that state.
There are, I think, a few ways in which your behavior changes. Scarcity draws a lot of attention to itself. That’s the key finding that I think motivates everything. When you’re experiencing scarcity, your mind automatically focuses on that thing. That focus brings benefits, which we talk about. But it has some costs, too, which help create the scarcity trap.
One cost, for the lonely: If you want to be interesting, the one thing you shouldn’t do is really focus on the fact that ‘I want this person to like me.’ That’s going to make you very uninteresting. But the lonely, they just can’t help but focus on that.
There’s this beautiful study in which subjects speak into a microphone and they either think that someone else listening to them, or they think they’re just talking. Among the non-lonely, there’s very little difference in how third parties would rate subjects’ responses. A third party rates subjects as equally interesting in both conditions. Yet lonely people become less interesting when they think someone is listening. It’s sort of a choking effect. That’s one kind of scarcity trap.
~Sendhil Mullainathan [source]