Persuasion wins the day in “Stranger Things”

Hello PRL!

Have you seen the Netflix series Stranger Things? It’s like a classic 1980s adventure movie, a mix of ET and Stand By Me, stretched out over eight episodes. If you’ve not seen it and you can handle a little PG-13 horror, check it out.

Warning: minor plot point ahead, here until the end of the short dialog below

People have a desire to remain consistent and look for patterns and consistency everywhere they look. Photo by allen, Untitled, Flickr CC-By-2.0
People have a desire to remain consistent and look for patterns and consistency everywhere they look. Photo by allen, Untitled, Flickr CC-By-2.0

In episode 7 of Stranger Things, the Goonies-like squad of middle-schoolers have a plan to rescue their friend. They need a little help with the science, and they phone their science teacher, Mr. Clarke. Interrupting his date night, they ask Mr. Clarke, simply, for advice on creating sensory deprivation tank:

Mr. Clarke: Hello?
Dustin Henderson: Mr Clarke, it’s Dustin.
Mr. Clarke: Dustin? Is everything okay?
Dustin: Ye-yeah, I just, I, I have a… science question.
Mr. Clarke: It’s ten o’clock on Saturday. Why don’t we pick this up on…
Dustin: Do you know anything about sensory deprivation tanks? Specifically how to build one?
Mr. Clarke: Sensory deprivation…? Wh-what is this for?
Dustin: …Fun.
Mr. Clarke: Okay. Well. Why don’t we talk about it Monday, after school. Okay?…
Dustin: You always say we should never stop being curious, to always open any curiosity door we find.
Mr. Clarke: Dustin…
Dustin: Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?

It’s a funny scene. It also highlights Mr. Clarke’s desire to remain consistent.

Consistency manifests itself in two ways, Social Consistency and Internal Consistency (with the related Cognitive Dissonance). In this and upcoming posts we’ll talk about Social Consistency through the lens of influence, viewing consistency from multiple angles and how it’s used to persuade others. Internal Consistency will come later.

Mr. Clarke encouraged others to be curious about science. He couldn’t change that behaviour when it was questioned.

Think about it: if we claim to be a Yankees fan, we probably wouldn’t walk around wearing a Mets hat. We like to walk the talk, as they say — people live the life they claim to live.

Think about a relationship you’ve been in that wasn’t consistent. Maybe your boss had mood swings. Maybe your lover was hot and cold. Maybe you find yourself swinging like a pendulum.

How did that inconsistent relationship make you feel? Write us a quick reply below — we’d love to read your story!