TV actress Lorraine Chase left “I’m a Celebrity…” last night. I wonder if she will now be flying back to Luton Airport…? But for fans of the show (and it has its millions of them) one of the highlights of the series so far has been the issue of “Tedward” – Lorraine’s teddy bear which she cuddled throughout her stay in the jungle and which former DJ Pat Sharp threatened to decapitate, upsetting Lorraine and her jungle buddies.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLPz7j2ZClY[/youtube]
However, the teddy bear is actually a reminder of her late partner, who died of cancer 14 years ago. You can understand why a 60-year-old woman, relatively alone in a jungle became so focused on a cuddly toy. But the other participants in the show all loved Lorraine it seems. Indeed, even Pat Sharp found it hard to find a bad word against her when he was ceremoniously dumped from the contest following a battle with former Olympic athlete, Fatima Whitbread. That’s because Lorraine’s activities within the camp have been completely “pro-social“. If you have watched the show you can’t help but notice she simply wanted to help her camp-mates and to be nice to them.
Interestingly, some fascinating new research from the University of Singapore has found that we are much more pro-social if we – wait for it – cuddle a teddy bear…! It transpires that simply looking at a teddy bear is not enough to make us more likely to help other people; we actually do have to touch the toy. The feel of the soft fabric is enough to stimulate those warm, cuddly feelings for our fellow humans it seems.
Online this could be quite important. Throughout the world of social networking you find increasing amounts of anger, annoyance, negative comments and downright disgust with each other. Often, though, these are things we would not say face-to-face. Online, it seems we are more prepared to be antagonistic and argumentative than in the “real world”.
Perhaps this is because in the online world we are comparatively isolated – we sit alone at our computers, connecting with people we haven’t yet met, or who we haven’t seen in ages. The Singapore research focused specifically on socially isolated individuals. When people are less social, their positive support of other people tends to be relatively low. Maybe when people are isolated at their computer desks their ability to be pro-social is reduced and the tendency to argue, disagree and be negative is allowed to rise.
What this research means is that we could, at a stroke, reduce the negativity and nastiness online if everyone had a teddy bear by their computer and cuddled it before they said anything on a social network or replied in anger to an email. Indeed, if you want to increase your positivity online, take a tip from Lorraine Chase – get yourself a teddy and give it a quick cuddle before you Tweet or email anyone. You could well find yourself being more positive online and getting more connections as a result. Indeed, a teddy bear for all your staff could reap significant rewards.
- Pat Sharp booted out of the I’m A Celebrity jungle… but continues moaning (mirror.co.uk)
- Feeling socially excluded? Try touching a teddy bear (seriously) (bps-research-digest.blogspot.com)
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+