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ANALYSIS BY

Navya Singhal

M.A. Clinical Psychology

Delhi University; IGNOU

Meerut, India

 
Navya Singhal

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Hello

I am a post-graduate in clinical psychology and have just finished writing a research paper on 'test anxiety in middle school children'.

I am a school counselor by profession and I also do freelance writing.

 
Joined On:
May 30, 2017
Last Active:
July 14, 2018
 

Company

Philipp Budeikin

Year of initial release

2013

PsY Rating

The analyst's overall summary, as applicable, of the accuracy of the psychology and the subject's potential to be psychologically influential or manipulative.

A higher rating means the psychology is more accurate and positive.

08/30/2017

Fatal Psychological Seduction Tactics To Control A Vulnerable Mind

We live in a world where everyone is busy carving a place of their own and trying to make a living. Therefore, most of us don’t have enough time to keep in touch with our friends, family and relatives. But still, wanting to be loved and accepted is something that holds utmost importance for us. It is then that social media comes to our rescue. And thus, most of our lives are revolved around our ‘virtual social lives’—around the number of friends we have on our social media profiles, or the number of likes we get on our posts—all we want is to be loved and accepted by our so-called friends. In the Blue Whale Challenge, it is this feeling of being wanted and loved that’s being targeted in order to achieve its dubious goal.

This game is said to have been originated in Russia around the year 2013 and has now spread worldwide. The game requires the player to complete various challenges, most of which are physically painful and can be fatal. The last of these challenges requires the person to commit suicide. The tasks for this game are personally requested by the curator and are not requested through a video game.

The game plays with the human psyche from its very beginning. It has been designed and crafted in a manner that it becomes very difficult for a person to quit it midway, even though they might realize that its end result will not be good. So, let’s explore a few ways in which the game effect’s a person’s psyche and forces him/her to continue playing the game to its lethal end.

THE ‘LUCKY ONE’

Special membership - The first manipulation is the fact that this game is not available for anyone to download on their own. The request to play this game comes as a social media link or message (something similar to the ice bucket challenge, etc.). We all want to be unique and exceptional and feel excited even at the mere thought of being able to do things that others can’t. It makes the invited person feel like he/she is special, lucky and unique enough to be invited to take over the challenge.

THE GROUP EFFECT

Validation - The second influencing factor is that everyone who plays the game allegedly becomes a member of a group which has many other players. These people are called ‘whales’ and they are often made to interact with each other. Membership in a group has various effects on a person’s psyche. It increases our so called ‘cool’ factor and makes us feel accepted. It not only gives us a sense of fake security that we have someone around us who cares (even if it is in the virtual world) but also helps in the enhancement of our self esteem and status. Therefore, membership in this ‘whale’ group acts as a validating measure and serves as something that one can be proud of.

Group conformity - Another psychological reason why the ‘group’ plays such an important part in influencing a person to play this game is that being a part of a group increases the chance of a person conforming to the group norms. Conformity means behaving according to the norms set by the group or the society, i.e., behaving according to the expectations of the other group members. We conform to these norms because people who do not conform not only get noticed more than others, but are also considered different. Being called different is something that generally makes us uncomfortable and unsafe, and thus we simply conform to the norms and behave in the group-defined acceptable manner. Following a norm thus becomes the simplest way of getting approval of others and avoiding disapproval. Another reason why we blindly tend to conform is that norms are generally considered to be reflecting the views and beliefs of the majority of the people. And it is our natural tendency to believe that the majority is more likely to be right than wrong.

Conformity to the negative aspects of the game increases because of this normative influence, which is influence based on a person’s desire to be accepted and admired by others. No one likes to be rejected, and deviation or non conformity might lead to non acceptance and even punishment. Conformity to the game also increases because of informational influence, which refers to the kind of influence that results from accepting evidence presented by group members rather than our own assessment of reality. This means that we learn from observing the actions of fellow members. New members of the group, in particular, learn about the group traditions by observing and conforming to the behavior of other.

THE CURATOR EFFECT

Who is watching? - The third and the most influential factor is that the game is supervised by a ‘curator’. It is very important to know that humans have the tendency to behave differently across different situations and in the presence of others. For example: a teacher is likely to draw different conclusions about a child’s behavior in school as compared to what his/her parents conclude about his/her behavior at home. The basic reason behind this difference is that the children have a tendency to show different behavior depending upon who is observing them and where they are (school/home situation). This tendency to behave differently in front of others and across different situations or environments is not only there when we are young, but continues throughout our lifetime.

Symbolic social influence- But it’s not only the presence of others that affects human behavior. People can affect us even without being physically present. This effect of people on our thoughts and behavior is known as symbolic social influence. In this case, it’s not others who produce such effects, but our mental representations of these people—their expectations from us, our relationship with them, their preferences, or maybe even how we think they would evaluate us for our correct actions. These can have powerful effects on us, and in many cases we are not even consciously aware of them. Like in the case of this game, the player is more likely to engage in a particular task merely because he/she thinks that they are being supervised by someone and they want to behave in a manner that is accepted by them.

Obedience - Another major effect that the presence of a curator has on the player is that it instigates the obedience factor. A very important aspect of obedience is that this kind of behavior is mainly a response to a person who is in an authoritative position. It is fairly similar to the time when you start wearing a seat belt while driving a car after a traffic policeman asks you to do so, but were not wearing it when your friend had been asking you to wear it. Here, you show obedience because the policeman is a person in authority, and not following his instructions could result in a form of punishment for you. It is also because we generally believe that people in authority must be obeyed, especially because they have other very effective means for enforcing their orders. Some of the other major reasons why we show obedient behavior can be the following:

  • We tend to obey because we feel that we are not directly responsible for our actions and we are simply carrying out the orders given to us by the authority. This is because there are times when people obey the orders given to them, even though they are aware that their behavior is causing pain and harm to others or maybe even to themselves.
  • People with authority generally possess symbols of status like their title or uniform, etc., something which we find difficult to resist.
  • Authority gradually increases the level of its commands from lesser to greater, from small requests for obedience to commands that bind us to commit to their orders and to always obey them. This happens because, once we start obeying small orders, slowly there is an escalation of commitment for the person who is in authority and we eventually start obeying bigger orders. The same thing happens throughout the game, when initially the curator asks the player to take up small tasks like maybe watching a horror movie to gradually moving to bigger tasks and eventually the task where the person is supposed to commit suicide.
  • There are times when events are moving at such a fast speed that we have no time to think and we just end up obeying orders from the authorities. This is a game that is supposed to be completed within 50 days, and a new task prescribed for each of these days. Therefore, it is a continuous game and does not give a player much time to think over what he/she is doing.

WHAT WE LEARN FROM THIS

The Blue Whale Challenge influences our behavior by stimulating the physiological presence of other players in our daily thoughts. It goes to the extent that it can make us do things that are beyond the boundaries of what is correct. We also learn that not all people in authority work to benefit society. Consequently, not all obedient behavior is healthy and good for us, or even society at large.

And the most important point is that though social media is now an integral part of our lives, it is not a medium that tells us how accepted or loved we are. We should remember that social media is just a medium to interact with people, and likes and comments are not a validating measure of our self-worth.

It’s therefore important for us to learn to develop a strong internal sense of right and wrong. And critically, part of this task is understanding the ways in which we can be influenced by others. We are then not as susceptible to automatically and without analysis succumbing to the pressure of authority and conformity.

INFORM YOUR PSYCHE!!! So that you will chose the right way.

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