Planning a Game Show

Title: All About Women
Genre : Television Game Show
Logline: It is all about eight women with lack of confidence go on a trip to learning a lot of skills from playing games to reinvent themselves, from an ugly duckling to the white swan.
Objectives
The main objective of this show is to change people’s behaviour to makeover themselves to be more confident in their life. People nowadays are lazy to be nice on their inner and outer beauty, so this show is to make them to have the motivation of changing themselves to be better.
Secondly, our objective is to increase their knowledge of beauty. Women nowadays normally they are lack of the knowledge of beauty. In this show, we invited a lot of professional make up stylist to guide those competitors to make up, diet and so on.
Lastly, our objective is to change the attitude of women by making them more attractive. There are no ugly women but lazy women in this world. Some people think that natural is beautiful. But after 20 years old, it no longer works. Through the game show, they will reinvent themselves into perfect women.
Synopsis
Theme: fantasy fulfilment
“All About Women”, is the Malaysian Television game show. It is the first television game show to offer a Royal beauty treatment to the winner. This show will air every Sunday at 8.30pm on 8tv.
“All About Women” is to help those women who are lack of confidence on themselves in the Malaysia. We will seek the competitors through some interview. Program group are choose 8 competitors to our TV game show. In the beginning, competitors will have a lot of training such as makeup, dressing and so on. After that, there will have small station game to test the competitors. The participant will get marks according to their performance in the station game. These marks is helpful in semi-final as the participant will get some mysteries gift that will boost them to get marks in the semi-final. The last two episodes are our semi-final and final. In the later period of the contest the progress of the competitors is determined 70% by public voting through text messaging or social media and 30% judged by three judges, Jimmy Lee, Grace Wang and Bernard Chandran. The show is hosted by Natalie Ng.
Target Audiences
The primary audience that we targeted for this show is Malaysia women and men with the age range between 20 to 55 years old. This range of people is more mature in their thinking and they can understand well about the importance of take care for their outer look. Besides that, they are more affordable in buying things to make them look more beauty. After that, this show is joyful and knowledgeable. They can watch this show in weekend to release their stress and also increase knowledge.

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The secondary audience that targeted for this show is all teenagers that between 13 to 19 years old. The range of this teenagers are more concern about their skin condition. Teenagers nowadays are more likely to care about their inner and outer beauty. So this TV shows can attract them to watch. Besides that, teenagers like to watch something special and excite so they will choose to watch this TV show as they will felt excited when participant are playing station games.
Moreover, this TV show is first broadcast during their holiday so they are free to watch the show.
Host
The host that we invited is Ms. Natalie Ng. (refer to appendix 1.) She had been working for the English and Chinese markets in 2007. She had confidence to take Malaysia market after she finished her Diploma in Mass Communication. She is 8TV’s Entertainment Live Show 8 E-news in year 2008 to 2013. She had also won the 2012 Golden Award for Most Popular Host.
Mentor
The first mentor that we invited is Mr. Wang Ming Yong (refer to appendix 2.) which will be shown in episode two. Mr. Wang Ming Yong is a healthcare professional from Taiwan. He had studied at Australian School of Herbal Medicine. He is also a well-known dietary nutrition health care consultant. Mr. Wang had be invited before to the ‘Ladies First’ and ‘Health 2.0’ as counsellor of health care.
The second mentor that we invited is Mr. Robin Niu (refer to appendix 3.) and he will appear in episode three. Mr. Robin Niu is a skin care professional which is also from Taiwan. Everyone address him as ‘Beauty King’ in Taiwan. He is graduated from a medical school in Taiwan. He have 18 years of experience in investigating skin care product. He get an award by Sogua for the most outstanding contribution to beauty. Mr. Robin have his own brand name ‘Naruko’ which is favourite by billion online users in China. This is the only beauty brand that been awarded the 2009 Top 80 Most Trusted Celebrity Brands and Best New Brand 2010 in Taiwan and China.
The third mentor that we invited is Mr. Jimmy Lee (refer to appendix 4.) from Melaka that will be in episode four. Mr. Jimmy Lee is a hair stylist which have 8 years of experience in the hair do industry. When he was 18 years old, he is studying at Hair Connection Academy that is located in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. He had also once been offered to be Hair Lecturer by Snips Academy in Sabah for 4 years. He now had formed A ‘Hair and Makeup Art Studio & Academy’ in Sabah with Ms. Ryana Yong.
The fourth mentor that we invited is Ms. Grace Wang (refer to appendix 5.) that will be in episode five. She is a makeup artist and have 5 years of experience. Ms. Grace Wang is more professional in bridal makeup. She had completed her hairstyling and makeup course in Taiwan and now all the product that she use is high quality product such as Mac, Bobbi Brown, Lancome and more. She also believes that makeup will enhance personal features and will make people feel good about themselves.
The last mentor that we invited is Mr. Bernard Chandran (refers to appendix 6.) that will be on episode six. Mr. Bernard Chandran is a fashion designer and people call him as ‘Malaysia’s Prince of Fashion’. He is a former student of prestigious Paris American Academy in France. He is also the local Celebrities most favourite fashion designer. His cloths infused with bold colours and draw inspiration of Malaysia’s multicultural influences. Mostly of his collection is made up of complex, traditional Malaysian costume with modern touches. Mr. Bernard Chandran collection had been worn by Hollywood Stars and also Lady Gaga.
Channel
The TV games shows will be on air at 8TV, from every Sunday 8:30pm to 9:30 pm. The first episode will be on air at 15 March 2015 while the last episode will show on 3 May 2015. 8 TV is one of the free-to-air TV stations that are privately owned by Media Prime Berhad in Malaysia. The reason we choose 8 TV as the channel to broadcast this TV game show is the target audience of 8TV is similar to this show which is Chinese audiences and urban youth. Besides that, we choose to broadcast this games show at Sunday as Sunday is weekend and most of the Malaysians are not working or studying at that day. Most of the Malaysian will customarily watch the Chinese news that broadcast at 8:00pm so the show is on air at 8:30pm as we wish to attract the attention of audience after watching the news. Furthermore, this games show will start to broadcast during the school holiday of primary school and secondary school which is 15 March 2015 because we hope that student can watch this game show when they felt boring and continue to support this show.
Episode 1:
The first episode is an introduction about the TV game shows “All about Women” and the participant selection. The hosts, Natalie Ng will give an explanation about screening condition for choosing the 8 participant. For example, participant must be a woman at the age range of 18 to 30 who brace up to learn and change themselves into a perfect woman. The interview is held in the studio by 5 mentor of the TV show. They are Mr Wang Ming Yong, Mr Robin Niu, Mr Jimmy Lee, Mr Bernard Chandra and Mrs Grace Wang. The interviewee need to prepare a short video to introduce themselves and the reason why they want to change into a perfect woman. They also need to answer the questions asked by 5 mentors. The list of participant will deciding by 5 tutors and announce at the end of the show.
Episode 2:
For the first part of this episode, the participants will start to attend the training class. The mentor of this episode is Mr Wang Ming Yong who is a Taiwan health care professional. He will listen to the participant lifestyles and give a comment on whether it is healthy or not. He will also share his own experience on how to maintain a healthy life and the importance of healthy life. The second part of this episode will be a station game. This game is aims to improve cardiovascular fitness and helps them to maintain a healthy weight. In this game, participants are required to run on a 7 meters foot sole massager in a playground. They need to gain the lead in race in order to win the games. The champion of this game will get 6 marks while the first runner-up will get 5 marks and the second runner-up will get 4 marks, and so on. These marks will continue to increase in following episode according to their result in the station game.
Episode 3:
The first part of this episode will be the skincare training class. The mentor of this episode is Mr Robin Niu who is professional in skin care. He will explain the symptom of different types of skin condition and the way to take care of it. He also explains about which kind of skin is suitable for which type of skin product. After that, he recommends the best seller product and the right way to use it. For the part of station game, participants are given 20 minutes to memorize 10 types of ingredient that widely used in skin care product and its use. After that, a lightning round will hold by the host, Natalie Ng. A total of 10 questions will be asked and the participants need to be the first to blow a balloon in order to answer the question. Participant will get 1 mark when they give the right answer. The marks they gain in this episode will be added on into the marks they got in previous episode.
Episode 4:
In this episode, Mrs Grace Wang, a professional makeup artist, will be the mentor for makeup training class. She will first points out the mistake that done by the participant and shows them some basic makeup that is easy and suitable for everyone. Besides that, she will explain and show them the most suitable makeup for them. After that, participant will draw lots to decide who will be their partner in the following part of this episode. They need to help their partner to make up and it will be judged by Mrs Grace Wang. Both of the persons in one group will get same marks. The champion will get 6 marks while the first runner-up will get 5 marks and so on. The marks they gain in this episode will be added on into the marks they got in previous episode.
Episode 5
A well-known hair stylist, Mr Jimmy Lee will be the mentor of this episode. He will first indicate the mistake that usually done by most of the women and show them the suitable hairstyles for them. He also shows them the latest hairstyles and the hairstyles that fit in different situation. After that, each of them will be given one picture that showing different hairstyles. They are required to complete the hairstyles same as the picture in a period of 30 minutes. Participant who be the first to complete the hairstyles will get 6 marks while be the second faster to complete the hairstyle will get 5 marks and so on. Participant who be the last or cannot complete the hairstyles in a period of 30 minutes will get 1 mark. The marks they gain in this episode will be added on into the marks they got in previous episode.
Episode 6
The first part of this episode is a fashion training class and the mentor is Mr Bernard Chandran, a famous fashion designer. He will show them the wrong way of matching clothes and teach them how to matching outfit. He will then show them the newest trend of clothing. After that, they will move to a dressing room that contains hundreds of clothes. They need to match 3 outfits that suitable for working, shopping and outing in a period of 10 minutes. They will wear the outfit they choose and judged by Mr Bernard Chandra. Participant will get the marks at a range of 0 to 18. The marks they gain in this episode will be added on into the marks they got in previous episode.
Episode 7
This episode will be a live semi-final. This episode is aim to select 4 participant who can continue proceed to final. In this episode, participant need to make over themselves in 40 minutes will the themes of traditional costume. They can use the marks they get in the previous episode to exchanges some preponderance for their makeover. For example, participant can use 10 marks to exchanges a chance to ask the mentor to help them and 7 marks to changes the brand of a tool. These participant after makeover, will show their picture of before and after. These picture will show in TV and open voting to all audience around the world through messaging or social media. Four participant who have higher votes will proceed to the final. The result will come out in the end of this TV show.
Episode 8
The last episode of this TV shows is a live final competition. In the end of this episode, one winner will be the selectedparticipant and will be required to go inside a room full of clothes, accessories and cosmetic product. They need to make over themselves, at the same time, prepare a talent performance in 1 hour. After 1 hours, the photo of their outfit will upload to social media and let public to vote. The judgment criteria for the final is quite similar with semi-final except there are three judges in the final. They are Jimmy Lee, Grace Wang and Bernard Chandran. The criteria for the judges are 30% and the other 70% are from the public voting. The winner will be given a Royal Beauty Treatment.
Conclusion
In conclusion, even though we face a lot of problem during completing this assignment but we still manage to complete our assignment due to teamwork. While doing this assignment. We learned how to create a television game show. It is not easy to form an idea. We learned how to make a trailer for TV game show as well. When doing this assignment, we find out that it is difficult to invite the host to participate in our TV game show because they are very busy and maybe some are come from foreign country.
The purpose for our TV game show is to let the public know more on how to makeover themselves to be more confident and pretty. We invite some famous and professional make up stylist to our TV game shows to attract more people participate in our TV show. We hope that teenagers can improve the knowledge of beauty through our TV game shows and became a person who perfect in both inner and outer look in the future.
 

Proposal for Reality Show

Logline: Thirty simple Australians battle for a chance to get a recording deal with one of the world’s leading music production houses, Sony music.
Pitch:
Genre: reality
Target audience: teens/adults/family
Thirty adults are picked from the entire country through auditions. The adults are picked based on their competition to sing and perform to a live audience. Three professional musicians from different genres proceed over the auditions. All Australian citizens are given a fair to chance to participate in the study. The auditions take place for a period of three months countrywide.

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The initial number of contestants is one thousand two hundred. These people qualified for the first auditions. They are further subjected to more auditions to reduce the number of participants to six hundred contents. The process continuous until the number of participants is down to thirty participants. The process of auditioning is long enough to allow the audience to identify themselves with the participant before the main auditioning starts.
The final participants are trained for a period of three weeks before the competition is now aired on Australian broadcasting corporation. The training helps the participants of the competition who will be the characters in the reality show to know how to act in public. The public is involved in the process of selecting the contestants that remain in the house.
The thirty contestants are then put in a house that will be their home for the next couple of months. They are provided with all requirements that they will need during the reality show. The thirty contestants are trained on weekdays on various music aspects that help them to compete during the weekends. All the contestants perform a music that is chosen by their musical directors. They perform the song on Saturdays to a live audience. The best performers on Saturdays go back to the house while the poor performers are put on probation.
The contestants that are put on probation are expected to perform the following week on Saturday. Four contestants are put on probation simultaneously. They are given a second chance to perform and impress the judges. After their performance, one of the contestants on probation loses their position and is evicted from the house.
The fellow contestants have the privilege of saving one of the contestants that are put on probation. The judges save one contestant and the public saves one more contestant. The contestant left out is evicted from the house.
The show will air two times in a week for a period forty-five minutes each. The reality show will be hosted by a famous celebrity and will be cohosted by another celebrity of the opposite sex. This aspect is expected to attract the attention of both sexes unlike the programs that are only watched by one of the sexes.The show will attract teenagers, adults and the whole family at large. The audience will have the option of choosing which participant remains in the competition .the audience will decide who will eventually win the competition.
To: Australian television network
From: media commentator
Date: 27 February 2014
Subject: Program pitch proposal
Introduction
Television industry is a very significant industry to the economy and to the public(Allen & Hill, 2004). For instance, candidates for public office use money to create and air television commercials, which in turn build name recognition, promote their issues, and attack their opponents. Television advertising in this environment influences the agenda-setting, learning and voting phases of election campaigns. The commercials of other products such as detergents, household equipment and institutions among other products and services normally utilize the same strategies.The television industry is today an instrument for imposing ideologies on the population it serves. Television influences behaviour through the symbols and messages they broadcast. A single thirty-minuteprogram can take months to produce, starting with research into the target audience and what excites or attracts their attention. Every image and every word is carefully chosen to achieve the best representation of the product and the get the viewer’s interest(Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2000).
Television programsare the art and science of impact. Program producers always aim at ensuring that their target audience do not critically think about their programs. They want the message to slip in underneath the radar of critical judgment to achieve the greatest results (Jacka & Dolin, 2007). Therefore, advertisers will always make use of emotional messages and images. They also take advantage of the brain’s unconscious processing.Scriptwriters have learnt that there are highly effective techniques they can use with great skill to motivate the audience to alter the way they feel about the programs being aired. If they are successful, the audience will without being aware that they have been influenced, change the way they behave. This process is blind but the manipulators of the process are not. The most effective television programs create an emotional state.
Television programs geared towards specific target audience is often visual, interactive, employs catchy slogans, uses celebrities to pitch the products, and is simple yet effective in its language(Holmes & Jermyn, 2004). Televised viewing disclosures are supposedly designed to supply consumers with important information for decision-making. Television has the power to persuade since it has features that appeal to our senses. This appeal comes from sound, movement, vision and colour thereby attracting the eye. Television also has a psychological, sociological and visual impact on the young.Due to the above reasons, television industry is a very significant section of the Australian system. It allows the manufactures of goods to display their products to the public. Television industry lubricates productivity by ensuring that buyers meet sellers. In addition, television viewing maintains the culture of a society through the airing of cultural programs. The cultural programs contain values that are embraced by the people in the society.The television network in Australia currently comprises of programs that have huge followings by one of the sexes. The programs have either a huge male following or a huge male following. The resulting outcome is that none of the programs has a huge following from the entire Australian population. The industry has therefore no much influence on the citizens of the country.
Problem statement
The Australian television network is facing increased competition from online digital sources. Technology allows people to stream television networks that are offered in other countries(Skeggs & Wood, 2012). Aussies are constantly embracing television programs that are produced in Hollywood. For instance, several online webpage traffic watchers in 2014 indicated that the most watched television program was game of thrones. The program is an epic television program that is developed in Hollywood in the United States.The most watched comedy was reported to be modern family, a program that is also a Hollywood production.
The television industry in Australia therefore needs to introduce a new program in their major television network(Turner, 2005). This practice will enable the television network to get more viewers and overcome the international competition.The television network has the advantage of having local actors that they can use in their production. The audience will identify themselves with the local actors.However, the television network will need to come up with an interesting program that will embraced by the entire Aussies population.
Reality show choice
There has been an increasing interest in reality television shows globally. The genre has the ability of attracting a huge audience. The audience is emotionally attached to the characters of their choice that are in the reality shows(Deaville, 2011).The most interesting fact about reality television shows is the fact that nobody knows the final winner. Both the audience and the producers of the show do not know who is going to be the final winner of the competition. This is because the audience through a valid online voting scheme that is vetted by top statistical organizations determines the final winners(Murray & Ouellette, 2004).
Furthermore, the contestants are exposed to a range of circumstances to find out how they handle different issues that may arise(Kraidy & Sender, 2011). The subsequent interesting fact that sets reality shows above other genres in television programs is the love relationships that are developed by the contestants while they are in the house. The audience is intensively attracted to such relationships and therefore increases their viewing of the program(In Slade, In Narro, & In Buchanan, 2014).
After the production of the show, people will watch the program for different reasons. True fans of music will watch melody gear because they have a passion of music and hence want to see a good competition between the contesters(Kopp & Dawson, 2013). A section of the audience will be attracted to the drama that takes place in the house. For instance, several competitors may develop a serious competition between them and the audience will be attracted to the actions that these contestants will take while they are in the house.
Competitive Edge of Melody Gear
Since the online streaming requires the services of an internet service producer, the internet service providers in Australia should come up with policies where streaming melody gear will be charged at a very cheaper rate that will allow the people to stream the show at a cheaper rate than the international content. The Australian television network should also approach a programming developer that will come up with an application that will enable the people to stream from their internet enabled devices and not just the conventional desktop computers. The Australian television network should use the following concepts to get a competitive edge against the international online digital streaming content.
Currently, the audience can only give their feedback via computers. However, majority of the customers use internet-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets often than they use computers. There is hence need to develop a mobile application that will enable the audience to watch melody gear from their Internet enabled devices. The proposed mobile application will provide real time processing services. These services will enable several audiences to interact with the system at the same time and get all their feedbacks on claims quickly (Raasch, 2012). The system will employ distributed processing capabilities. These capabilities will make customers interact with the system in such a way that they will think the system is on their computer. They will not be aware that the system is distributed a concept that means other audiences are also accessing the system
The new mobile application will require the Australian television network to adjust its website design. This is mainly because the mobile application requires that the website being accessed be responsive so that the customers can get all the programs on the website. Failure to adjust the process would increase the chances of failure of the new program proposed Cochran. (2006). A good responsive design allows the television network to gauge and change centered on the device it is seen from without creating separate sites. Content focused site is the second aspect that will be considered during design of the mobile application. There is a strong positive connection between a superior focus on content and the upsurge use of receptive websites. The site will provide a good web experience for customers.
The third trend is increasing custom typography. The typography has been a trend over the past years. It places emphasis of type in mobile web design. Fourthly, a simple flat design should be used. The design tends to use fewer colors and avoids textures, gradients, and shadows. As the web becomes responsive companies should opt for simple designs with flat design elements. Single page scrolling sites is the fifth trend. This trend allows visitors to find everything that they are looking for in the same page. The sixth trend is video usage. The Australian television network should increase the broadband internet speeds and use novel web technologies like HTML5 video. These two practices will increase online video usage. The audience will have the option to send and view television episodes to their friends that do not have internet access.
A larger layout, photography, video material, and designs will be available on the mobile application. This trend will help the Australian utilize screen real estate on large screens and escalate usability on lesser displays. The final trend is scalable vector graphics and other vector images. The company needs images that are large enough to look good on large displays. This aspect should however not increase the load times for visitors accessing the site on a mobile device. Vector images however do not provide scalability of photographs. Future designs of vector images are expected to allow the vector images to provide for scalability of photographs (McWherter, 2012).
The websites act as a platform for the television network to meet the audience directly. Therefore, the mobile application has to provide a favorable platform for the feedback to take place. A good web design of Australian television network will attract more audience and therefore increase the revenue of the business (Fling, 2009). The fact that the audience can give their feedback and get prompt responses from the website will increase customer satisfaction. The customers will find the process to be convenient and timesaving and will, therefore, choose to watch the program through the mobile application developed and interact with other viewers on the contents of the show.
The mobile application would enable faster transfer of information between the audience and the television network. Customers would make their claims, and they would be able to get feedback quicker than the current system. The processes that will be available on the mobile application are not limited. Customers would be able to access all the services with huge convenience that would translate to a higher customer satisfaction level.
After adjusting the Australiantelevision network website, the mobile application would now have higher chances of success and hence melody gear will be accessible easily. The mobile application process would follow the stages of system development. All the current inefficiencies will be identified. This process can be achieved by interviewing the audience (Neighbor, Ramsay, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, & ABC-TV (Australia), 2002). The new system requirements are defined. The proposed system is then configured to incorporate all the specified requirements. The system is then developed and tested in pilot phases. The pilot phases are significant since it allows the television network to return to the previous system in the event of failure of the new structure. Once the mobile application is up and running, it should be maintained regularly and exhaustively evaluated (McLean-Conner, 2006).
Audience
The program will attract teenagers, adults and the whole family. The program will be aired at eight in the evening. It will be a rated parental guidance and therefore can be viewed by the whole family(Ouellette, 2013). This aspect will enable the program to attract a huge audience. However, the program would also be aired late in the night at eleven. The content aired at the time would include the love relationships and other adult themes. This move will be to attract the adults while maintaining the standards of television viewing. Majority of the children are often sound asleep at the time and would therefore not have access to this adult version of the program.
Challenges
Reality television requires a lot partnership with several stakeholders to guarantee success. The Australian television network will therefore need to come with favorable policies while developing the program to ensure its success. The reality show also costs more than other genres hence a sufficient amount of funds and time would be required. Adjusting the website to allow users to stream efficiently from smartphones is time consuming.
Recommendations
The simultaneous adoption of the program pitch and the adjustment of the Australian television network will guarantee the success of melody gear. The program would win back the audience from the international content. The Australiannetwork should collaborate with IINET to reduce the internet charges required in streaming melody gear and other local content. IINET is one of the leading internet providers in Australia. The partnership between the two organizations will reduce the charges that Aussies will incur while streaming melody gear. This trend will increase the viewers for the program and hence the network would achieve its intended purpose of winning back the audience from online digital streaming competitors.
References
Allen,R.C., & Hill,A. (2004). The television studies reader. London: Routledge.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation. (2000). National Broadband Network. Ultimo, N.S.W: Author.
Brian Fling. (2009). Mobile Design and Development: Practical concepts and techniques for creating mobile sites and web apps. O’Reilly Media, Inc.
Craig Cochran. (2006). Becoming a Customer-focused Organization. Paton Professional.
Deaville,J.A. (2011). Music in television: Channels of listening. New York: Routledge.
Holmes,S., & Jermyn,D. (2004). Understanding reality television. London: Routledge.
In Slade,A., In Narro,A.J., & In Buchanan,B.P. (2014). Reality television: Oddities of culture.
Jacka,L., & Dolin,T. (2007). Australian television history. Perth, W.A: Network Books.
Jeff McWherter. (2012). Professional Mobile Application Development. John Wiley & Sons.
Jon Raasch. (2012). Smashing Mobile Web Development. John Wiley & Sons.
Kopp,M., & Dawson,M. (2013). Reality television. Minneapolis, MN: Core Library.
Kraidy,M.M., & Sender,K. (2011). The politics of reality television: Global perspectives. London: Routledge.
Murray,S., & Ouellette,L. (2004). Reality TV: Remaking television culture. New York: New York University Press.
Neighbour,S., Ramsay,M., Australian Broadcasting Corporation,& ABC-TV (Australia). (2002). The network.
Nigel Hill., Greg Roche,& Rachel Allen. (2007). Customer Satisfaction: The Customer Experience through the Customer’s Eyes. The Leadership Factor.
Ouellette,L. (2013). A companion to reality television.
Penni McLean-Conner. (2006). Customer Service: Utility Style: Proven Strategies for Improving Customer Service and Reducing Customer Care Costs. PennWell Books.
Sender,K. (2012). The makeover: Reality television and reflexive audiences. New York: New York University Press.
Skeggs,B., & Wood,H. (2012). Reality television and class. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Turner,G. (2005). Ending the affair: The decline of television current affairs in Australia. Sydney, NSW: UNSW Press.
 

Textual Analysis of TV Show

Textual analysis of the TV show “Gogglebox.” 
This analysis will look at series 2 episode13 of the Channel 4 television programme Gogglebox. This show is broadcast nationally in the UK on Channel Four and is now in its second season. This episode can be found here:
http://tvshows.ec/episode/Gogglebox_s2_e13
It falls broadly into the genre of reality TV. The participants (I will call them the actors for the purposes of this analysis) watch TV and are filmed reacting and commenting on the shows. These clips are edited together within the sequential chronology of the TV show in order to compare and contrast reactions and comments.
In analysing this text, I hope to look at how the text portrays the diversity of British life and promotes TV as a unifying social force for good. I am also interested in the version of reality presented here
One of my reasons for looking at this text is that it is a popular TV show that is attempting to reclaim the idea of water cooler TV. In the face of competition from on demand services, such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer, broadcast TV has seen a decline in the number of people who watch a program at the same time and on the same date.
I would like to look deeper into the text to look at the ways in which the show tries to offer a view of a shared reality to promote its own validity.
The introduction and broadcast paradigm
Through the narration, we are informed of the numbers of people who sit down and watch TV every night. The use of statistics and complete lack of modality in the language (present simple tense – used for facts) tells the viewer to think about this as reality, there is no need to watch critically, as this is all true.
The references to everyday experience are explicit here. The title sequences show darkening streets and street lights being lit, indicating a return from the toil of work to the comfort and security of home. This is underlined by shots of curtains being drawn, indicating a private space.
There are also establishing shots through the windows of the houses, as we see people sitting down with a cup in their hand, looking at the TV. The cup of tea is a signifier of relaxation, while the shots through the window indicate to the viewer that they are part of someone else’s private moment, they are almost spying on them, and they have been given permission to look in from the outside. This reinforces the idea that this is real life, it is not set up for the cameras, but it somehow corresponds to what you would see if you peered in to someone’s living room.

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The text belongs the broadcast paradigm of reality TV. There is a kind of generic realism at work here. The reality show genre is familiar and has become almost transparent. With this familiarity, viewers lose sight of the fact that there are lights, directors, producers, make-up artists, camera operators and sound recordists working in the same space as the actors.
Social codes
There are number of social classes and demographics covered within the show. These all conform to their tropes throughout the seasons. The main characters are as follows: The affluent couple; The working class retired couple; The gay couple; The black girl friends; The middle class families; The working class Asian family; The two elderly intellectuals.
There are also various other types and tropes that appear from time to time, but these are the main ones.
Broadcast codes
Travelling shots of the living rooms are put in to create pauses between movements to different actors; they fulfill a similar role to establishing shots in that they help with the invisible editing of the show, which is a way of adding to the believability of the show as the viewer is less distracted by the editing.
The actors are all filmed from eye-level, which serves to put them on the same level as the viewer. We have been invited into their private living rooms, and now we are sitting as their peers, friends and part of their families. We are close to them and on the same level, there is no power relationship here, this emphasizes again the inclusivity of this activity.
Reaction shots of the actors are shot in close-up to add intimacy and edited in sequences to emphasise these as common reactions. There is the suggestion here that we all do this, we all react in virtually the same ways, no matter what our socio-economic context.
Everyone is filmed sitting in close proximity, on a sofa or armchair. This attempts to show the closeness and intimacy of the event. In some cases this looks unnatural as the space is very limited, and this proximity is maintained, even when there are other empty chairs next to them. The shots are also constructed to show people sitting in exactly the same position in every episode.
Genre and intertextuality
This text contains strong allusions to a popular BBC situation comedy from the last ten years, The Royle Family. This was famously a comedy where nothing ever happened. It showed a working class family in the UK sitting together, occasionally eating, but mostly watching TV. The show was filmed in a very similar way, with the family looking at the TV and the camera mainly pointing from where the TV would be. The script followed the comments of the family on various topics of gossip and their views on the shows that they were watching.
Season one was narrated by Caroline Aherne, season two is narrated by Craig Cash. Both of these are actors and writers for The Royle Family.
This provides an intertextuality that suggests that this show is to be taken lightly, it is not a serious social commentary, and that it is about people, or rather characters. It asks us to look for the tropes within the text and sets them up very clearly.
The narration begins each episode with the line: “More than twenty million of us choose to spend our evenings in front of the telly.” The tone here is informal and familiar, choosing to refer to “us” as it is inclusive and refers to the stars of the show and the viewers as belonging to the same group. The numbering, 20 million, shows that we are not alone, that a large proportion (around 30 %) of the population is doing the same thing at the same time. Again, this emphasizes the togetherness of the shared experience.
This is followed by reaction shots, such as disgusted recoils, faces covered with hands and utterances such as “Oh, my God!” By inserting these reaction shots immediately after the narration, the producer wishes here to provoke feelings of empathy, that this is something that we all do when watching TV. It also establishes a certain narrative tension; the TV screen is not shown here, and so the viewer is led to ask what these reaction shots were reacting to, creating the desire to find out the answer by continuing viewing of the show. This is a technique that alludes to other genres of narrative, such as drama serials that hook the viewer in with unanswered questions.
The narration continues with the line “We’re going behind closed doors…” over the establishing shots of windows lit in flats and houses, then closer shots from outside of the windows, peering into the various living rooms, the private spaces, where the actors are shown chatting, laughing and drinking tea whilst sat on their sofas. The intended effect here is to grant the viewer privileged access to private spaces, the doors are closed and we will be going behind them, the viewer is peeking in through the windows, and then getting to go actually inside the room. The viewer is drawn in to a secret world, but one that is very similar to their own secret world. This is conspiratorial and is intended to generate intimacy and empathy with the actors. It also serves to reinforce this idea of reality, that this is genuine fly on the wall stuff, which it is not set-up in any way, this is what we would see if we just peered in through the window, and there is no artifice or performance here.
The paradigm of reaction shots is again used, drawing the viewer further into the narrative with more questions, plus opinions expressed, such as “I love this show” between the narrator’s voice explaining that we will “find out what people really (emphasis in the text) thought”. This pushes this idea again of uncut real life, this is the real thing, this is what people thought of the shows, and it is not mediated or censored.
Verbal language
The show is very informal and contains expletives. The language used is mainly to agree or disagree with comments, to mock or play with someone and to make jokes. It is social bonding that is important in this context. The bonds are created through sharing the medium of TV and commenting on it, these bonds are then reinforced with the viewer as the viewer is implicitly invited to agree or disagree with the actors.
There are a number of accents, portraying the idea of a range of social classes and regions of the UK. This again serves to emphasize the idea that this behavior is quite universal and therefore, real and true to life.
Bodily and behavioural codes
Postures are generally relaxed, and yet most of the actors do not touch at all during the show. There is only one couple who conspicuously hold hands while sitting at opposite ends of the sofa.
Dress varies; some of the actors (mainly the younger ones) are very informally dressed, whereas most of the older actors are dressed more formally. This jars somewhat with the idea that this is a time when we relax, but indicates a higher level of media awareness of the older actors.
There are two types of shots of the actors; the wide shot that encompasses the whole group, and close-ups. The wide shot is used to show the actors participating together in commenting on the TV. This switches to close-ups when reactions are shown. The effect of this is to become more intimate with the actors, to be really close to them when they show emotion, thereby drawing the viewer into their emotional state.
The codes for food and drink vary between the actors and are clearly organized to depict a certain reality, to emphasize their character according to type. For example, the older couple drinks tea, the intellectuals always have a bottle of red wine, the wealthy couple enjoys copious amounts of alcohol from a well-stocked drinks cabinet, the Black friends always have a large quantity of take-out food, the gay couple always eats from a box of chocolates.
Ideological codes
While the whole premise of the show is based around the idea that we are glimpsing what really goes on behind closed doors, the reality of the show is that it is produced like any other TV show, it is just that the dialogue is unscripted. In many ways, it is more like an improvisation with amateur actors playing themselves, on the themes of whatever they are told to watch by the producers.
Taken as a whole, this show falls into a broadly conservative ideology that supports the dominant ideology of the UK. The close family unit is celebrated, and while diversity is portrayed through the inclusion of the gay couple and the black friends, there are still many absences that are conspicuous.
For example, single people are not portrayed, including single parent families; neither are students, the unemployed or anyone who watches daytime TV shows. The focus here is on evening TV, and this period is lionized as the time when we all watch TV. This serves to promote the idea that typical members of society have busy lives during the day, and get together in the evening to relax together with the TV.
The show also promotes consumerist values. The actors are all engaged in comment and discussion, but are, in fact, passively consuming the media, along with consuming their food and drinks. The actors all have houses and we are invited to look both inside and outside of these and comment on them.
Benefits of semiotic analysis
By looking at how this version of “reality TV” is manufactured, I have tried to show that it is a creation of the producers. The actors are real people, who all now have managers for their burgeoning media careers. The show has become a hugely popular format in the UK and reviewers and online comments have referred to its warmth and feel good factor. However, this is a carefully managed response that is the goal of the producers, not just a happy coincidence that has popped up from filming people being themselves.
References
http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html (Last accessed 13.01.14)
http://tvshows.ec/episode/Gogglebox_s2_e13 (Last accessed 10.01.14)
 

Focus on Teen Mom TV Show

Reality TV shows have risen drastically over the past decade in today’s popular culture and have become a household commodity.  There are many different genres of reality TV shows, such as social experiment, transformation, competition, documentary and such.  The claim of using “ordinary” individuals in reality TV could draw the connection and create similar interest to the audience. On the side, according to Lemi Baruh, a Turkish psychologist, voyeurism is the contribution to the rise of popularity to watch reality TV shows (Baruh, 2010).  The show focuses on “real” situations, the audience acquire a sense of satisfaction from being transparent spectators in the unsuspecting individuals’ lives.  However, the majority of these shows are not truly “real” and contain the element of “semi-scripting,” in order to create a sense of authenticity, they make use of familiarity and the reproduction of the dominant ideology.  This paper will take the show – “Teen Mom” as an example and argue how it as a show represents social conflicts and the use of narrative to restore the social conflicts and thus resolves the ideological contradictions.

Social Conflict

 “Teen Mom” is an American reality TV show series aired in 2009, and the show follows four young mothers as they navigate motherhood and cope with different challenges including problematic exes, souring relationships, emotional problems, family issues and so forth.   “Teen Mom” has brought its viewers into the harsh realities of teenage pregnancy and parenthood and see all the hardships and challenges that the four young mothers encounter in their life.  The fights, tears, drama and emotional breakdowns portrayed in the show have certainly drawn the audience; it takes advantages from the serious emotional problems and poor life choices of its entertainment subject.   One of star – Catelynn Lowell, who struggled with postpartum depression has suicidal thoughts after the miscarriage in season 7.  Another star – Amber Portwood, was arrested due to drug possession and domestic abuse in the second season.  Farrah Abraham, one of the former “Teen Mom” star, was arrested drunk driving and fighting with the security officer in season 3.  These are the evidence from the show to articulate the social norms of teen mothers from the lower class, seeing them as abusive, irresponsible, immature or any negative stereotyping and stigmatization.

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On the other hand, the show reinforces the idea that teen pregnancy is a social problem and the series is deeply rooted in consequences.  There is a case where a couple was not emotionally and financially prepared for their first child in their 16. As a result, they placed their daughter in adoption. There is another case where the “bad” mother who physically attacked her fiancé in front of her young daughter, seemingly it generates dramatic storyline, brings controversy to the show and draw large audiences.  On the contrary, there is a successful case where Maci Bookout represents as exemplary of a teenage mother who goes to college and supports herself and her son.  In which, she has relatively less screen time than other teenage mothers from broken homes and low levels of education.  The show represents social conflict through the combination of teenage motherhood and the conformity of the typical framing of poor and lower class to the teenage mothers.  Moreover, the show mainly depicts the failure and adverse outcomes of how teenage mothers handle the situation and cope with different challenges. 

The use of narrative to restore the social conflict

The reality maker manipulates everything from the casting to production in order to deliver dramatic storyline.  Meanwhile, the viewer reads the character as a real person, not as a function of the plot but it helps to create a sense of realism by including “unwritten” event.  Tyler Baltierra and Catelynn Lowell are one of the couples in the show.  They are both from dysfunctional families, both of their parents have issues with drug addiction. Besides, the dramatic point is where Catelynn’s mom was married to Baltierra’s dad.  According to Holmes, “the structured and managed setting” which always shapes the television contexts in which “ordinary” people perform” (p.259).  The show selects their subjects from a broken family and complicated relationships to represent the social norms.  The combination of social discourses, such as class, family, race and more have reinforced the negative stereotyping to teenage mother.  However, if the show portrayed the characters are from the upper class and receive high-level education, the story would not be as compelling and convincing as it is now presented.

Furthermore, through a variety of means, including editing and camera work, “Teen Mom” use a narrative structure to tell dramatic stories about real people.  The show “Teen Mom” is preceded by another show “16 and Pregnant”, currently playing the 7th season and has more than 130 episodes.  Amber Portwood, one of the lead character in “Teen Mom,” the show portrays her life from a teenage mother from season 1 to nowadays –  the mom to 9-year-old daughter. Amber’s life is chaotic, many ups and downs and full of challenges, besides, she has an issue with anger problems due to bipolar and borderline personality disorder.  In season one, the show starts by introducing Amber as a party girl and dropped off from high school when she discovered she was pregnant.   Throughout the show, it depicts the tough journey that Amber has encountered into parenthood.  The editing and cinematography invite the audience to judge the mother’s action — the cutaways that highlight the connotation of poor parenting.  The close-up shots of piles of clothing left in the corner, the plates left on the couch, shots of Amber’s daughter playing alone with the potential dangerous household item that left on the ground and shots of Amber screamed at her daughter whenever she cried or whined.  These examples reinforce the incapability and inability to parent her child.  Besides, the editing and camerawork hide the means of construction and express the character’s authenticity as being a neglectful and lazy teenage mother.  In season 2 episode 20, Amber was physically and emotionally abusive to her ex-fiancé, the scene portrays every detail, slap, punch, and kick are depicted clearly on the screen.  Subsequently, she went to jail due to the domestic abuse. Later on, she re-entered into society and claimed to learn from the past and move on.  According to Hill, “reality TV retains a degree of verisimilitude in part because of its use of documentary techniques (as cited in Sgroi, 2007).”  Also, reality TV shows are like a narrative and revolved around conflict. It presents the disturbance, followed by crisis, ending in a resolution.  In fact, “Teen Mom” provides a strong, dramatic and emotional storyline, witnessing the whole journey of one of the cast has gone through drastic changes from bad to become a better individual after going to jail.  Programs rely on narratives to structure the shots and episodes and present “the real.”  The editing and camerawork are used to manipulate the audience and representation.  Hence, the “ordinary” teenage mothers in the reality TV show are edited to represent selective and stereotypical behavior.  “It [reflects] our values and defines our assumption about the nature of reality (Fiske & Hartley, p.85).” 

Resolves the ideological contradictions

Social discourse presents teenage mother as a stigma and illegitimate in the society.   However, there is a paradox in the show, while the producer has framed the teen mothers as particularly troublesome and has portrayed all the hardships that teen mother need to overcome, it also glamorizes the lives of these young women and deviates from societal expectation.  The show has turned the “ordinary” teenage mothers dealing with difficult circumstances into celebrities.  According to Today.com, there are girls from public high schools who try to get pregnant to get on those shows.  Some may see the show distorts the educational pregnancy prevention tool but also promote the fantasy to be famous.  Such purposeful pregnancies have much deeper roots than watching a TV show.  According to the Pew Research Center, the show “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant” have surprisingly led to fewer teen birth (Patten & Livingston, 2016).  These shows create a positive impact to the local in the extent that the audience ensures the storyline on screen were not mirrored on their life in consideration of all the disastrous side-effects of pregnancy illustrated on the show. 

The show has successfully lowered the teen birth rate due to the use of exaggeration and make filters to the content.  The show has mainly focused on the conflicts, damaged relationships and all the negative impacts toward a teenage mother, while, minimizing all the positive and encouraging moments with their kids or family.  Thus, this show exaggerates how worse it could be as a teenage mother.   According to O’Shaughnessy, “ideology works by masking, displacing, and naturalizing socials problems and contradictions (p.95)”.  This reality show has reproduced and established the dominant ideologies to normalize the events happened in the show.  Taking into account that the use of a preexisting dominant form of white femininity to frame its portrayal of the teenage mother.  Furthermore, the frequent and loud objections projected by Farrah Abraham to her mother in all seasons is somewhat relatable and familiar to the targeted audience.  The way Abraham disputes her mother portrayals of teenagers protesting to their parents.  Also, the society considers teenage pregnancy a social dilemma, yet, the show magnifies all the negative side effects to construct content with a sense of realism.  It offers us ways of understanding the society and it associated with the belief of family and relationship to resonate with the audience.  The show has featured the attempts to bring the teenage mothers back to acceptable female roles and behavior. Certainly, the ways that they struggle to be “normal” is nearly impossible.  In season 1 episode 8, Abraham goes to parent-child music with her daughter, and she is the only mother at her age and without a partner.  “Otherness” is illustrated on teenage mothers from other typical mothers.  This show only represents a partial picture of the society and intends to disuse the values from the minority in order to resolve the ideological contradictions. 

Conclusion

To conclude, the reality TV show “Teen Mom” is a successful show where it creates a positive impact on the society but it cannot generalize all the other reality TV shows.  “The use of narrative structure creates a sense of closure and ideological reassurance” (Baker, 2018).  In term of casting, they are representing the dominant ideologies and stereotypes. The fact that they are “ordinary,” mostly white, have low education level, coming from the lower class to lower middle class, growing up in a dysfunctional family and so forth.  These factors are built in conformity with the social norms to adapt to the audience as well as the society.  Thus, the show extends to emphasize the conflicts and quarrels from what the teenage mothers were supposed to be.  The destructive behavior and the image of being irresponsible and reckless used to describe the teenage mothers are portrayed through the failure and poor life choice.  It is constructed out what is seemly natural and familiar.  Henceforth, the audience witnesses all the traumas and crisis as known as the climax of the story, from make-ups to break-ups to domestic violence and loss of child custody.  The show edits and filters the content to disclose what fit the society the most.  Also, it intends to form an emotional bond to the audience with the relatable context and disseminate the core value of the show. 

Bibliography

Baker, J. (2018). What is ideology and how does it relate to television?, lecture notes, Simon Fraser University, delivered 22Oct 2018.

Baruh, L. (2010). Media Psychology. Mediated Voyeurism and the Guilty Pleasure of Consuming Reality Television, 13(3), 201-221.

Fiske, John, and John Hartley. Reading Television. London: Methuen, 1978.

Freeman, M. (Director). (2009, December 8). Teen Mom[Television series]. MTV.

Holmes, S. (2010). Reality TV and ‘Ordinary’People: Revisiting Celebrity, Performance, and Authenticity. Trans-reality Television: The Transgression of Reality, Genre, Politics and Audience in Reality TV, 251-74.

O’Shaughnessy, M. (2005). Box pop: popular television and hegemony. In Understanding Television (pp. 99-113). Routledge.

Patten, E., & Livingston , G. (2016, 4 29). Why is the teen birth rate falling? Retrieved from Pew Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/29/why-is-the-teen-birth-rate-falling/

Sgroi, R. (2007). Consuming the Reality TV Wedding. Ethnologies , 113–131.

 

Creation of Humour through Non-Observance of Grice Maxims in Quite Interesting TV Show

The Creation of Humour through Non-Observance of Grice Maxims in Quite Interesting TV Show.

Language and pragmatic have always been a really interesting field in which some scholars and linguists have been developed their theories about language, however, the study of these linguistic theories is not perfect, and these theories have different interpretations in order to analyse or investigate some texts, dialogues or transcriptions. These linguistic theories are developed to comprehend the contexts and the background of a conversation or a text, helping us to understand what kind of information is given by the speaker or received by the hearer, and what is the intention of the speaker. Some linguists have developed their theories in order to demonstrate the complexity of language. In this paper, I am going to focus on the development and creation of humoristic resources in one television show called QI (Quite Interesting). Throughout the transcription of this fragment, some linguistic theories are portrayed in the text, and that is what I am going to analyse, focusing on Grice’s Cooperative Principle and the Non-observance of his maxims, in addition, I am going to introduce different interpretations of other linguists such as G. Leeds or J. Thomas, in order to demonstrate how the Non-observance of these maxims creates satirical and humoristic resources and the impact that this Non-Observance of Gricean Maxims has in a comedy show like Quite Interesting.

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About Quite Interesting, is a TV show that started in 2003, produced by John Lloyd and presented by Stephen Fry until 2016, after he’s out, was replaced by Sandi Toksvig. The main goal of the show is getting as more points as possible in order to obtain the victory, however, in the show, there are certain variables to obtain more points, such as the originality of the answer or the creativity. The winner of the panel will be able to participate in the next show. One of the most important characteristics of this TV show is the presence of a big number of humourists, what implies a real use of language elements such as irony, rhetorical questions or sarcasm, giving to the program a big language peculiarity. This TV show is a clear example of the fluctuation or violation of Grice’s Maxims and how through this is possible to create a comedy TV show.

Herbert Paul Grice (1913-1988) was a linguist, philosopher and a scholar that studied the pragmatics elements and is considered one of the most important linguists of the twentieth century. He developed the theory of the Conversational Implicature in 1975. In this theory, he distinguishes four maxims within a speech or conversation. Maxim of Manner, which defends being perspicuous, avoiding obscurity of expression and ambiguity, being brief and orderly. Quality, trying to do the contribution one that is true.  Quantity, which states that the contribution has should be as informative as required, not more informative than required and Relation, which defends the relevance in the statement.

 These maxims are presented in our daily conversations, however, some linguists have argued that Grice’s maxims are not immovable, that could be a variation or rupture of them, which is one of the tools used to create humour or irony in a conversation.

 What the cooperative principle says is that people who are involved in a  conversation are working on the assumption that certain rules control their               operation, i.e., a set of culturally bound rules that vary in different cultures but              are followed by all the participants of a conversation in order for a conversation               to be successful. The main underlying assumption of the cooperative principle is              that people cooperate when they are conversing (Thomas 1995:62).

There are some mechanics by which we can create humour, in addition, breaking the norms of any discourse is acceptable in order to create humour, as some linguists and scholars supported:

“Humour is created by putting things together in an unusual and unexpected way”. (Gruner 1997).

The excerpt that we have selected belongs to QI Season 13 Episode 6 Marriage and Mating, it is a short fragment, but within it, there are interesting elements to analyse during the conversation. The selection of these excerpts is based on the study of Grice’s maxims and how through the violation of them, it is possible to crate humoristic and satirical situations. And it is very interesting how through these resources a panel show could have a comical structure.

Transcription of the fragment.

(Note that the excerpts are structured based on the intervention of the panellists.)

Excerpt 1:

 

0:03 [Stephen] But what’s the recipe for a disastrous marriage?

0:08 [Jo]  dead vicar?

0:11 [Stephen] it would be it would be your right yep?

0:14 [Greg]   live vicar lovely couple escaped Bengali tiger

  [hahahaha]

0:19 [Bill]  yeah that would be tricky

0:20 [Stephen] you’ve painted a word picture Greg there// let’s think first about budget

0:23 [Bill]            //oh

In this excerpt, Stephen and both respect two Gricean maxims that are presented, manner and quantity, both are fluting throughout his intervention, the Perlocutionary act of Stephen was to obtain the attention of the spectators, whilst, Jo sets up a reaction. Greg interrupted looking for humour and is flouting the maxim of quality, the Perlocutionary act is created using Deictic and metaphor confusion.

Excerpt 2:

0:54 [Stephen] it was economists at Emory University Atlanta who discovered this they found an inverse correlation between money spent and how long it lasts those who spend less than $1,000 dollars which is what? £700 pounds had divorce rates 53% below average while those who spend more than 20000 you were talking about that as a sum divorce rate 46% above average but what about numbers who attend weddings? is that a similar inverse correlation? the more who come the shorter the marriage?

1:21 [Alan]          //I presume so because of the cost //factor

1:25 [Bill]     //expense yeah=   

1:26 [Stephen]      =oddly enough the reverse is true the more people who witness the wedding the longer it lasts haha so you’ve got to have a cheap wedding with lots of people that seem to be the key this is Randy Olson a PhD student at Michigan state he found that couples who marry in front of more than200 people are 92% less  likely to get divorced than those who only have a few witnesses=

1:48 [Alan]        =so really you want to get married in Selfridges on Christmas Eve

  [hahahha]

1:52 [Stephen] or maybe if you want to have really cheap and cheerful but lots of people maybe somewhere like McDonald’s in Hong Kong

  [hahahaha]

2:00 [Stephen] for $900 you can get 200 guests at a McDonald’s//

2:04 [Alan]                           //McDonald’s // happy marriage

In this fragment, and following a conversational style, a turn-talking conversation between Alan and Stephen, Alan is flouting the maxims of manner and quality, whereas Stephen is not flouting any maxims. In addition, Alan uses wordplay to create a comical situation. Like flouting the maxims, wordplay is also an example of the creation of humoristic situations: “We consider wordplay as a category of jokes. The topic, or the form that the wordplay takes, can constitute a type of bonding against another represented in the words chosen with which to play” (Boxer 1996: 280). 

So, the creation of humour in this extract is not only by flouting the maxims but introducing word plays.

Excerpt 3:

2:17 [Jo]              //yeah but how many burgers do you get?

  [hahahha]

2:21 [Jo]  come on give us that info I’m thinking about getting remarried there

  [hahahaha]

2:26 [Bill]  it’s a very simple ceremony isn’t it? you point to the bride do you love it? I’m lovin’ it! allright

  [hahahaha] + [applause]

2:38 [Bill]  it’s all over in 5 minutes

2:40 [Alan]  yeah put a ring on it//

2:42 [Greg]              //yeah oh onions lovely

  [hahahha]

2:45 [Alan]  if you love it put an onion ring on it

  [hahahha]

There is a turn-talking non-standard, because of interruptions and overlapping, at the beginning Jo doesn’t, flout any Gricean Maxims, however, she is ironizing the situation. The irony is another linguistic resource that was analyzed by Grice and other linguists. According to Jonathan Adler and Lance J. Rips: “the speakers are flexible with the maxims of conversation and indeed often flout them deliberately to create special effects such as metaphor or irony”. (2008: 771). The use of irony exemplifies a way in order to flout the conversational maxims.

In addition, Bill is flouting the maxims of quality and manner, furthermore, he introduces a conceptual metaphor (related to fast food). Greg overlaps Alan by using a wordplay. The conclusion of this excerpt is the use of a wordplay by Alan.

Excerpt 4:

 

2:48 [Stephen] this is Randy Olson from Michigan state who discovered that we should be//

2:51 [Alan]               //can’t get the picture of an erection with an onion ring on it// out of my head (bangs head as if trying to get the thought out)

2:54 [Stephen]      (with disgusted tone)     //oh!

  [hahahaha]

2:58 [Alan]  how do you get a thought out of your head? (still bangs head)

 

Presence of introductions (self-selecting) throughout this excerpt, flouting the maxim of relation and dramatization in the TV show. Alan does a visual act in the show and after this, he does a visual act (deictic) that emphasizes the phrase, both are creating a humoristic situation by flouting the maxims and they dramatically acted speech acts.

Excerpt 5:

4:38 [Stephen] Now what’s the longest anyone’s ever gone without sex?

4:40 [Bill] ohh

4:42 [Greg] I went for a whole panel show once!

 [hahahah]

 

The last part of this transcription, Greg is flouting the quality maxim to create humour in the final sentence. The previous fragments of the conversation have a similar structure compared to the previous ones, based on the rupture of Gricean maxims to create humour. Greg, for instance, is flouting the quality maxim through his reply and the audience responds with a laugh.

Conclusions about this analysis:

The creation and development of this analysis provided different conclusions, such us the flouting of Gricean Maxims throughout the conversation in the show, which caused the creation and introduction of the irony in the text, as a mechanism to create humour. In addition, the creation of comedy is also based on the introduction of sarcasm, that as the irony, it is a very useful resource in this kind of TV shows.

There are other scholars that considered that Grice’s maxims and comedy are not able to be linked, such as Leeds, that states that Grice’s cooperative principle is not appropriated for comedy: “does not stand up to the evidence of real language use” (1983:80)

The result of this research is not only investigating the rupture of Grice’s maxims but discover which are the alternatives in order to create comedy in this kind of TV shows and in other comedies. The Maxim of Quality is flouted the most in the show. The Relation Maxim is flouted in many responses in the panel, creating the Script Opposition Act. The Maxim of Quantity is violated through the incongruencies of panellist’s answers. In some cases, giving more information than needed or giving less information that is required. And finally, Maxim of Manner is flouted when panellists give answers that are not appropriate or efficient.

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To sum up, the creation of comedy or humoristic situations sometimes depends on the violation or suppression of Grice’s Maxims, which could be substituted by the introduction of elements such as irony, sarcasm or metaphors, so it is inevitable to think that Grice’s Maxims are presented in our daily conversations or speeches, but there are not maxims that are irreplaceable or inviolable and some comical elements require of this violation or flouting Grice’s Maxims.

Works Cited:

Adler, J. E., and Rips, L. J. (2008). Reasoning: Studies of human inference and its foundations. Cambridge University Press.

Boxer, D., & Cortés-Conde, F. (1997). From bonding to biting: Conversational jokingand identity display. Journal of Pragmatics

Grice, H. P. (1975). Logic and conversation.

Gruner, Charles R. (1997) The game of humour: A comprehensive theory of why we laugh: Routledge

Leech, G. (1983) Principles of Pragmatics London: Longman

Thomas, J. (1992) Cooperative Principle. Concise Encyclopedia of Philosophy of Language, Peter V. Lamarque, 1992: Concise Encyclopedia of Philosophy of Language

 

 

 

 

The Irony in ‘The Truman Show’ and ‘The Stranger’

Truman from The Truman Show and Meursault from The Stranger both have things that foreshadow their ultimate choices in life, which include symbolism, existential themes, and irony.
In The Truman Show , there is irony present throughout the whole movie. During most of the film, Truman wanted to leave Seahaven and go explore the world. He had a desire to do more than just live a quaint, common life. He is unique, and it is his motivation that makes him stand out. His enduring determination helped him find the answer. For example, he almost drowned during a storm while sailing, but he persisted on. Truman got an answer, but it may not have been the answer he was searching for. Once Truman learned that his life was a television show, he realized he would not be as unique if he left. He would not be the center of attention, and now wants to be just an ordinary person outside of Seahaven.

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There also irony present throughout The Stranger, as Meursault also has somewhat of an epiphany towards the end of the novel. Throughout the story, Meursault is indifferent to many things and does not show strong moral values. For example, he kills a man without strong reasoning. After getting sentenced to death, he truly realizes why he is getting punished for his actions. He understands what will happen to him and accepts it. Ironically, instead of having moral thoughts or feelings of remorse, he believes that hatred of him would make him feel less alone. However, he realizes he becomes happier when he better understands human existence and purpose. “As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself-so like a brother, really-I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate,” (Part 2, Chapter 5, P.123). He feels lonely, and it is the hate from the crowd of spectators that help him feel less alone.
Meursault faced a lot of things like an existentialist. For example, he was ready to accept his consequence after he shot the Arab. He also was ready for death, knowing it is inevitable. Some existential themes include freewill, controlling your own fate, accepting your fate, and taking responsibility for your own actions. These themes are all present in The Stranger. It was the freewill that led him to shooting the Arab, because he was in total control. He chose his fate, accepted the consequences, and took responsibility for what he did. For example, he realized he was going to die, and accepted it.
There are also existentialist themes in The Truman Show. Although the show’s creator, Christof, tried to keep Truman in Seahaven, he ultimately could not. Truman’s freewill and control of his own fate led him to discovering the truth about Seahaven, and thus controlling the outcome of his life. He accepted the reality of his life being centered around a television show, but moved on by leaving Seahaven. Although Truman’s artificial world came to an end, he entered reality as he left Seahaven.
Symbolically, Truman’s “fake” world coming to an end was foreshadowed by a previous event. The light fixture that fell as Truman left his home symbolized things starting to fall apart. Shortly after this even, there were more examples that caused him to be suspicious and doubtful of the world around him. Another great example of symbolism in the film was the unfinished bridge that Truman and Marlon had conversations on. Truman was always uncertain of something when he spoke to Marlon on the bridge, and it could represent Truman’s unfulfilled life and uncertainty. Although Truman’s life was unfulfilled in his eyes, there is something that foreshadows him traveling in the future and discovering something. The name of his sailboat was the Santa Maria, which was a famous boat that Columbus sailed to America on. This foreshadowed Truman leaving the town of Seahaven to explore a completely new world.
There is much symbolism present in The Stranger as well. For example, Mersault does not like being uncomfortable, especially from the weather. Many perceive the sun as a source of warmth, sometimes beauty, but Meursault dislikes the heat. The sun normally brings joy, emotional warmth or comfort to an individual, but Meursault seems to dislike feeling emotional in any way. He also dislikes heat from the sun. The sun was a barrier of Mersault’s emotions. It also led him to murder. While walking on the beach, Meursault encountered the Arab again. The Arab reflected light off of his knife from the sun. Meursault thought to himself, “All I could feel were the cymbals of sunlight crashing on my forehead and, instinctively, the dazzling spear flying up from the knife in front of me. The scorching blade slashed at my eyelashes and stabbed at my stinging eyes,” (Part 1, Ch.6, P.59). Right after this, he shot and killed the Arab. It seems like the little emotions that Meursault had took over his actions. Before walks up to the Arab and shoots him, Meursault thinks to himself, “It occurred to me that all I had to do was turn around and that would be the end of it. But the whole beach, throbbing in the sun, was pressing on my back. I took a few steps toward the spring,” (Part 1, Ch.6, P.58).However, towards the end of the novel he did gain some morals and understood much more about life. When he did, he looked into the window, with the sun shining behind it, and gazed at his reflection: “I moved closer to the window, and in the last light of day I gazed at my reflection one more time,” (Part 2, Ch.2, P.81).
As you can see, existential themes, symbols and irony not only foreshadow, but affect Meursault’s and Truman’s ultimate choices in life.
 

Do empirical studies of human reasoning show that humans are fundamentally irrational?

Prior to the 1970s, mainstream psychology of decision-making assumed people to be fairly good and reasonable statisticians (Edwards, 1966; Lopes, 1991, p. 66). Since then, however, this assumption has been gradually undermined. This shift was sparked by a series of empirical findings published by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky as part of their heuristics and biases program (summarised in Tversky and Kahneman, 1974; see also Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky, 1982). They suggested that, in assessing probabilities, people rely on a limited number of rules of thumb, or heuristics, which reduce complex reasoning tasks to simpler, more intuitive judgmental operations. Drawing on this idea, several researchers from various disciplines have argued, in a pessimistic vein, that humans are fundamentally irrational.

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Evaluating some of the heuristics-and-biases tradition‘s empirical findings will indeed reveal seemingly irrational patterns of reasoning (I). Nevertheless, I will contend that these results should be approached with scepticism, as they are ultimately embedded in an unwarranted and problematic idea of human cognition. Indeed, counterarguments and evidence advanced by evolutionary psychologists will show that many of the alleged cognitive illusions, or biases, proposed by Kahneman, Tversky and several of their colleagues, can be avoided by adopting a more instrumental approach to rationality (II). Against these opposite and conflicting extremes, I will finally propose and defend a more moderate ‘middleway’, offered by dual process theories (III).
(I)
In their widely cited articles and books, Tversky and Kahneman set out to describe and discuss how people make judgments under uncertainties. In doing so, they designed a series of thought-experiments devised to reveal people’s underlying reasoning processes (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974, p. 1124; McKenzie, 2005, p. 323). To better understand their work, it is useful to directly engage with some of their most notable experiments. In the famous Linda problem, Tversky and Kahneman presented a group of statistically naïve subjects with this simple personality sketch:
‘Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations’ (Tversky and Kahneman, 1982, pp. 84–98).
Participants were then asked to rank the following statements by their probability:
a) Linda is a bank teller (T)
b) Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement (T&F) (Tversky and Kahneman, 1982, pp. 84–98).
The overwhelming majority of subjects (89%) ranked the compound target (T&F) more probable than the simple target (T). This, however, clearly violates the conjunction rule – i.e. the requirement that a conjunction cannot be more probable than either of its conjuncts. All feminist bank tellers are, by definition, bank tellers; a person cannot be more likely to be a feminist bank teller than just a bank teller (Tversky and Kahneman, 1982, pp. 84–98; McKenzie, 2005, p. 326). Drawing upon these results, Tversky and Kahneman posited that, when asked to estimate the probability that A belongs to B, or that B will generate A, people rely on representativeness heuristics; that is, on the degree to which A is representative of, or resembles, B (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974, p. 1124; 1982, pp. 84–98). Accordingly, the description of Linda being highly consistent with the stereotype of feminists but not of bank tellers, subjects replaced correct probability judgment with this, more readily available, heuristic. Obviously, however, because similarity is not a factor affecting probability assessment, judgments based on representativeness are frequently biased (Tversky and Kahneman, 1982, pp. 90, 92–93; Newell, 2013, pp. 606–607).
Impressively, this pattern of reasoning – labelled conjunction fallacy – has been found repeatedly not only in later, similar experiments, but also within groups with backgrounds in statistic and probabilistic theory, both at intermediate and sophisticated level (Tversky and Kahneman, 1982, pp. 92–93). Moreover, representativeness-based biases have been reported also in problems concerning prior probabilities assessment. In the well-known lawyers―engineers problem, two groups of subjects were presented personality sketches of several individuals allegedly randomly sampled from a group of 100 lawyers and engineers (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974, p. 1124–1125). In one condition participants were told that the group comprised 70 lawyers and 30 engineers; in the other condition the composition was reversed. Both groups were then asked to assess the probability that a given personality sketch belonged to engineer rather than a lawyer.
According to Bayesian reasoning, the provided base-rate of lawyers and engineers should have influenced reported probabilities (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974, p. 1124–1125; Samuels and Stich, 2004, pp. 4–5). However, Tversky and Kahneman observed that the subjects in the two conditions produced the same probability judgment. This indicates that participants systematically ignored base-rate information, relying instead on the degree to which a given description was representative of either lawyers or engineers. Interestingly, in the absence of descriptive material, prior probabilities were correctly employed. Nevertheless, these were yet again ignored every time a personality sketch was introduced – even when the sketch was completely uninformative and undescriptive of either lawyers or engineers (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974, p. 1124–1125; Samuels and Stich, 2004, pp. 4–5).
Involving fairly obvious errors, base-rate neglect and conjunction fallacy are, perhaps, the most interesting phenomena discovered in decision-making. However, they are far from isolated. Proponents of the heuristics-and-biases approach have reported a huge number of empirical findings concerning popular fallacies in probabilistic judgment.[1] Notably, for example, Peter Wason’s selection task (1966) seem to indicate that people are biased towards confirmation. During an experiment, Wason presented subjects with four cards bearing letters on one side (e.g. ‘A’ and ‘K’) and numbers on the other side (e.g. ‘2’ and ‘7’). Two cards were displayed with the letter side up, two with the number side up. Participants were then asked to select just those cards that, if turned over, would show whether or not the following statement is true: ‘if there is a consonant on one side of a card, then there is an odd number on the other side’. Subjects mostly selected the Kcard alone, or the Kand the 2cards, rarely choosing the Kand 7cards. Yet, if the 7 had a consonant on its other side, the rule would be false. Drawing on these results, Wason concluded that people are biased towards confirmation, and fail to see the importance of the falsifying card (Wason, 1968, as quoted in McKenzie, 2005, p. 328).
Against these upsetting results, one might argue that many of the reasoning problems explored in the heuristics-and-biases literature do not have great practical importance. Yet, worryingly, this does not appear to be the case (Lopes, 1991, pp. 78–81; Gigerenzer, 1991, p. 85). For instance, in a renowned study, Casscells, Schoenberger and Grayboys (1978) presented the following reasoning task to a group of staff members and students at Harvard Medical School:
‘If a test to detect a disease whose prevalence is 1/1000 has a false positive rate of 5%, what is the chance that a person found to have a positive result actually has the disease, assuming that you know nothing about the person’s symptoms or signs? __%’ (Casscells, Schoenberger and Grayboys, 1978, pp. 999–1000).
The authors found that, under the most plausible interpretation of the problem, the majority of their subjects neglected probabilistic reasoning. Only eighteen percent of the participants gave the correct Bayesian answer (2%); while a striking forty-five percent of them ignored the base-rate information, assuming the correct answer to be 95% (Casscells, Schoenberger and Grayboys, 1978, pp. 999–1000). In this particular case, the base-rate neglect cannot be explained in terms of representativeness heuristic. Accordingly, it seems plausible to argue, as Kahneman and Tversky did, that judgmental biases are widespread even beyond the laboratory’s walls, making disquieting inroads also in applied disciplines with potentially real-world implications (Tversky & Kahneman, 1982, p. 154; Casscells, Schoenberger and Grayboys, 1978, pp. 999–1000; Cosmides and Tooby, 1996, pp. 21–22; Samuels, Stich and Bishop, 2002, p. 240).
On their face, these results show that, in making intuitive judgements involving probabilities and uncertainties, people systematically deviate from appropriate statistical, mathematical and logical rules. Instead, they employ normatively problematic heuristics, which, more often than not, lead to biases (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974, pp. 1124). Thus, some researchers have painted a rather bleak image of human rationality, claiming that people repeatedly commit errors in probabilistic judgement because they have not evolved ‘an intellect capable of dealing conceptually with uncertainty’ (Slovic, Fischhoff and Lichtenstein, 1976, p. 174; Nisbett and Borgida, 1975, p. 935). Kahneman and Tversky themselves also seem to endorse this pessimistic interpretation, arguing that ‘people do not appear to follow the calculus of chance or the statistical theory of prediction’ not just in some or many cases, but in all cases – including those in which they get the right answer (Kahneman and Tversky, 1973, p. 48; Samuels, Stich and Bishop, 2002, p. 241).
This pessimistic view has some weight to it. The above discussed empirical findings do indeed seem to demonstrate that the untutored mind only makes use of ‘quick-and-dirty’ heuristics. Nonetheless, I find such a conclusion contentious. One problem with the pessimistic interpretation is the yardstick against which proponents of the heuristics-and-biases tradition assess people’s cognitive mechanisms. Adopting the so-called ‘standard picture of rationality’, they maintain that being rational is to reason in accordance with rules of classical logic and probability theory (Samuels, Stich and Bishop, 2002, p. 247). However, this assumption is problematic. Firstly, the concept of ‘probability’ itself is hotly debated. For instance, some argue that rules of probability theory do apply to single events, while some contend that they only apply to classes of events. If the latter camp is correct, then this would invalidate many of the heuristics-andbiases experiments involving unique events (Cosmides and Tooby, 1996, p. 3; Chase, Hertwig and Gigerenzer, 1998, p. 207). Secondly, this classic interpretation of human rationality is content-blind. In other words, it assumes laws of logic and probability a priori as normative, independent from problem context and subjects’ judgements about it (Gigerenzer, 2006, pp. 106; 121–122; Chase, Hertwig and Gigerenzer, 1998, p. 207). Such criticisms indicate that a reevaluation of the criteria used to assess rationality is needed. Thus, in the following section, I will consider evolutionary psychologists’ call for a more instrumental view of human cognition.
(II)
As mentioned, following the classical picture of rationality, proponents of the heuristics-and-biases approach define errors in reasoning as discrepancies between people’s judgments and probabilistic norms. However, as evolutionary psychologists contend, these laws of logic are neither necessary nor sufficient to make rational inferences in a world of uncertainties. Normative theories and their rules are relevant to people only in some contexts (Gigerenzer, 2006, p. 118; 1991, p. 86; Over, p. 5). This emphasis on the ‘ecology’ of rationality Echoing the tradition of Simon’s bounded rationality (1956), these authors therefore emphasise on the relationship between mind and environment and reject the ‘cognition in a vacuum’ of the heuristics-and-biases approach. In particular, given that the human mind has been shaped by evolution, Gigerenzer (1994) and Cosmides and Tooby (1996) suggest that researchers should present problems in more ‘ecological’ way; that is a way that resembles humans’ natural evolutionary environment. In such an environment, they insist, probabilistic information is framed in terms of natural frequencies – e.g., ‘X will happen 3 out of 20 times’ – rather than percentages (Cosmides and Tooby, 1996; Gigerenzer, 1994; 2006, p. 119).
This speculation – i.e. frequentist hypothesis – has prompted several evolutionary psychologists to re-design some of Kahneman and Tversky’s most famous reasoning task in terms of natural frequencies. For example, Fielder (1988) proposed a frequentist version of the Linda problem phrased as follows:
There are 100 people who fit [Linda’s description]. How many of them are:
a) bank tellers
b) bank tellers and active in the feminist movement
In this version of the experiment, as Fielder predicted, the conjunction fallacy was significantly reduced: only 22% of participants judged (b) more probable than (a) (Fielder, 1988, as quoted in Gigerenzer, 1991, pp. 91–92). Cosmides and Tooby (1996) have presented even more impressive results by running a frequentist version of Casscells, Schoenberger and Grayboys’s medical diagnosis problem. In contrast to the original findings, their version of the problem elicited the correct Bayesian answer from 76% of the subjects. Base-rate neglect simply seemed to disappear (Cosmides and Tooby, 1996, pp. 21–22). Obviously, these findings do not invalidate the ones produced by the heuristics-and-biases approach; however, they do show that people’s inductive mechanisms embody aspects of calculus of probability. However, these are designed to take frequency information as input and produce frequencies as output. Just like the frequentist school does, the untutored mind distinguishes between frequencies and single events (Cosmides and Tooby, 1996, p. 5; Gigerenzer, 1991, p. 104). Moreover, and more importantly, these results demonstrate that good judgment under uncertainty is more than mechanically applying a formula of classical logic or probabilistic theory. In making decisions, intuitive statisticians must first check the problem context or content (Gigerenzer, 2006, p. 119; Newell, 2013, p. 610– 613).
This argument introduces and informs Gigerenzer’s notions of adaptive toolbox of fast and frugal heuristics (Todd, Gigerenzer, and the ABC Research Group, 2012). To briefly explain, he compares the mind to an adaptive toolbox containing specific heuristics selected depending on the constraints of the environment and the goals of the decision maker. The emphasis is on using heuristics that do well, rapidly, and on the basis of a small amount of information (Gigerenzer, 2006, pp. 124–126; Goldstein and Gigerenzer, 2002). The following example serves to illustrate the approach.
Which US city has more inhabitants: San Diego or San Antonio?
Goldstein and Gigerenzer (2002) posed this question to groups of students from the University of Chicago and the University of Munich. Sixty-two percent of University of Chicago students inferred correctly that San Diego was larger; but, surprisingly, every single Munich university student answered correctly (Gigerenzer, 2006, pp. 124–126). Goldstein and Gigerenzer explained the result through the operation of the recognition heuristic, which states that when you are faced with two objects and you have heard of one but not the other, you should choose the former. Most of the Chicago students had heard of both cities so could not rely on this heuristic; in contrast, the ignorance of the Munich students – very few had heard of San Antonio – facilitated their judgment (Gigerenzer, 2006, pp. 124–126).
Evolutionary psychologists’ conclusions and results urge a re-consideration of the heuristics-and-biases pessimistic view. They demonstrate that, if mental tasks are proposed in a more instrumental, ecological frame, than people do not deviate from appropriate norms of rationality. Most of people’s reasoning is worked out by ‘elegant machines’ shaped to survive the intricate evolutionary environment. Moreover, as Gigerenzer argues, ‘fast and frugal’ heuristics are useful strategies, insofar as they capitalise on evolved abilities and environmental structure to make smart inferences (Gigerenzer, 2006, p. 120). Therefore, concerns for human irrationality are ultimately unsubstantiated.
(III)
Unsurprisingly, the debate between heuristics-and-biases proponents and evolutionary psychologists has received huge attention. Some have attempted to make this dispute disappear, claiming that there is no fundamental disagreement between the two sides (Samuels, Stich and Bishop, 2002). For instance, Samuels, Stich and Bishop (2002) note that the empirical findings of the heuristics-and-biases approachdo not provide any compelling reason to think that people only base their judgments on normatively problematic mechanisms of reasoning. At the same time, evolutionary psychologists have offered no empirical proof that all reasoning and decision-making is promoted by normatively unproblematic ‘elegant machines’ (Samuels, Stich and Bishop, 2002, pp. 245–260). This argument, however, completely ignores the extent of differences between pessimistic and optimistic view of rationality (see Kahneman and Tversky, 1996; Gigerenzer; 1991, pp. 101–103). Nevertheless, it does correctly suggest that these approaches do not necessarily invalidate each other.
I have suggested that the fast-and-frugal approach has helpfully refocused questions of human rationality on the relationship between mind and environment. However, sometimes it might be difficult to find the necessary or correct result in the external environment. In these cases, careful thought about available information and its cognitive representation can help to overcome erroneous judgments. Moreover, as Evans and Stanovich (2013) note, both the heuristics-and-biases tradition and evolutionary psychologists largely neglect personal differences. After all, some participants in the heuristics-and-biases experiments do give the standard normative response, whereas some subjects in the experiments championed by evolutionary psychologists still commit fairly obvious errors (Evans and Stanovich, 2013, pp. 234–235).
Drawing on this consideration, proponents of dual-process theories have claimed that human reasoning and related higher cognitive processes – such as judgement and decision-making – are underpinned by two kinds of thinking; one intuitive, the other reflective. The former – i.e., Type 1 processing – is fast, automatic, holistic, largely unconscious, and makes minimal cognitive demands; while the latter – i.e., Type 2 processing – is relatively slow, rule-based, deliberatively controlled and requires more cognitive capacity (Evans and Stanovich, 2013, p. 225). Further, Evans and Stanovich speculate that the Type 1 processing, as evolutionary psychologists suggest,has been shaped by natural selection to make smart judgement based on the environment; whereas Type 2 processing has developed more recently, it is aimed at maximising personal utility and it is more influenced by culture and education. Accordingly, individual differences can be explained in terms of subjects’ cognitive abilities; those participants who are more trained to use Type 2 processing will be more likely to find the correct answer, independently from how the problem is framed (Evans and Stanovich, 2013, pp. 236–237; Stanovich, 1999, p. 150).
Although I am sympathetic to evolutionary psychologists’ argument for human rationality, the empirical findings proposed by dual-process theories provide a tenable, and in some respects, more persuasive, “middle-way”. Reviewing and assessing the experiments proposed by the heuristics-and-biases tradition and by evolutionary psychologists has showed that people are inclined to make errors, as well as to reason in accordance with optimal information processing models. Although very influential, these views ultimately oversimplify questions on human rationality, failing to see the complexities of the mind and its mechanisms. In contract, by accommodating both pessimistic and optimistic interpretations, dual-process theories overcome the blunt question ‘are people rational?’, acknowledging that the mind is neither a perfectly working machine nor a fundamentally flawed one. Upon these considerations, researchers should abandon the ‘monolithic’ views proposed by the heuristics-and-biases and evolutionary approaches, to focus instead on questions concerning the extent of human cognitive abilities and the specific reasoning processes at play under certain conditions.
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[1] Amongst the most mentioned, overconfidence biases and anchoring and framing effects. For a complete account see Kahneman, D., Slovic, P. and Tversky, A. (eds), (1982), Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.