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Social Experiment

Posted on | July 1, 2009 | 2 Comments

I’m hoping to recruit some help for a social experiment. You will need the following materials to participate:

  • A semi decent suit (Must be snappy)
  • A brief case / cell phone / laptop / etc
  • $20 – $40 bucks
  • Six to eight hours of time

First, put on the suit .. you need to look very professional. Passers by need to think that you are some kind of executive. Your field of business does not really matter .. you could be a stock broker, technology guru, lawyer, whatever. The choice is up to you, pick whatever you like.

Second, find a city .. within the city you will find someone sitting on a bench or porch steps holding a sign asking for money. Take $20, stuff it in the cup and ask if you could sit for a while. Strike up a conversation, get to know the person. Get a couple cups of coffee (one for them), ask them if they mind if you do a little bit of work while you sit. Find out how much the person collects on any typical day, record this amount with whatever level of discretion seems appropriate. Feel free to let the person know that you’re conducting an experiment, in fact I encourage you to do so. You’ll be making a friend, false pretense is taboo.

Now, open the laptop .. fire up the phone .. say things like “See if they offer a deal – no more than 2 years!”, or, “No, dammit, I said SELL!” .. or whatever is appropriate for your vocation of choice. ┬áJust be loud enough for passers by to hear you. You need to stick around for 6 – 8 hours doing this, so get creative. At the end of every ‘call’ , make some humor regarding the call and share it with your new companion. Make sure that passers-by see this.

At lunch time, buy your new friend something too , spend the other $20, or just give them the other $20 directly. At the end of the day, ask your new friend how much money they collected aside from your’s, that is the purpose of this experiment. Does your presence induce trust and compassion in passers by that would not have been present otherwise?

The worst case scenario – you spent $40 but found someone very interesting to have lunch with a few times per week.

Post your results in the comment form. Thanks!


2 Responses to “Social Experiment”

  1. James
    July 2nd, 2009 @ 4:10 am

    I dont get it.

    All of that was just to find out how much money they make in a day? Am I missing something?

  2. tinkertim
    July 6th, 2009 @ 12:49 am


    I’m actually finding out how much ‘trust’ a person in a business suit instills in passers-by, and if they’re encouraged to give more (or less) due to that person’s presence.

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