Journal 4


A screenshot of the show

About 9 years ago, an opera called “Don’t Talk to Strangers” became popular all across China. This show talked about a woman who suffered from domestic violence finally get rid of the conventional prejudice and safeguarded her own rights. The assailant was his husband, a famous doctor who had good reputation but actually was a sicko. The actor who played the role was called Yuanzheng Feng. After this opera became popular, Feng also became a household name. He said in one interview that after he acted this role, he was often “attacked” by people: someone punctured his type and even attacked him when he was having dinner.

Feng is from the same city of I am. When I was about 10 years old, one weekend my father drove us back home, when we stopped on the road, we found that Feng was in the car next to us. Suddenly we heard a woman shouted to Feng’s car “Don’t beat your wife again!”

I could not remember whether Feng responded to her or not, however, this event left a deep impression on me, because at that time I was thinking about why people gave vent to their anger of the role to the actor himself. For now, I think part of the reason can be discussed from view of classical conditioning. In this case, the role Feng played is the unconditioned stimulus (UCS), the anger of audience is the unconditioned response (UCR), and Feng himself is conditioned stimulus (CS). Since the role Feng played always abused and beat his wife, audience create negative impression even anger on the role. However, since it was Feng who played this character, audience thought that he was also a guy who abused his wife in real life. Such relation can be expressed as following:

Villain in the show (UCS) –> Negative impression (UCR)

Actor (CS) + Villain in the show (UCS) –> Negative impression (UCR)

Actor (CS) –> Negative impression (CR)

Instead of dislikes to the negative protagonists, we may also be attracted with positive protagonists in dramas. Since part of the reasons those fans like their idols was that the characters the stars presented on the screen were attractive, but not the actors or actresses themselves. For example, I love the character Sherlock Holmes played by the actor Benedict Cumberbatch in the British show Sherlock, because I think Sherlock was a cool and clever man, however, the actor himself may be not a person who was as cool and clever as the role he played. Such idolatry of stars can also be seen as Halo effect. Since most of the images stars present to public are attractive, and the roles they acted on the screen are always likeable, we tend to think them as smart and kind, just like the attractive roles they played on screen.

If we can see similar events from perspective of classic conditioning and (or) Halo Effect, there may be fewer people who are infatuated with those stars, and people will not feel astonished when finding that the stars they love are not that perfect in real life. Nowadays some teenagers are crazy of following those stars, they cut classes, leave their home and travel a long way to wait their stars in the hotels the stars live, and some of them even sacrifice their money for meals in order to get a flight tickets. It is not appropriate to judge whether their behavior is right or wrong, but it is indeed irrational. If these teenagers know about classical conditioning and Halo effect, and think about their behavior from these perspective, I think they will be much more rational fans of the stars.


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