I used to love physics when I was in high school, there was not much that could compare with the satisfaction of dappling with ridiculous hypotheticals that included throwing pigs into a vacuums and applying theories that stemmed from the displacement of bath water.
So considering it’s been over 10 years (shudder) since I wrote my final physics paper and fluttered into my university endevours in very different fields, I was quite surprised that my mind jumped to Newton after reading an article this morning entitled ‘Give and Take: How The Rule Of Reciprocation Binds Us.’
The article referred an experiment conducted in 1974 by sociologist Phillip Kunz. He decided to send out Christmas cards to 600 random strangers and just to observe what happened, the cards contained a hand written note as well as a photograph of Kunz with his family. After 2 weeks responses started to stream in and eventually Kunz had received an overwhelming 200 responses.
It’s quite weird to think that complete strangers would encourage this kind of behavior by partaking in the madness and responding, but Kundz said this was due to what he calls ‘the rule of reciprocation’. The gist of this concept is that when we give people something they feel obliged to reciprocate in some way. It is just uncanny how this reminded me of Newton’s third law of motion; ‘for every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.’
People will respond with a gesture that is equal to the Christmas card gesture by sending another Christmas card. Apparently this Christmas card game of badminton continued for 15 years! The lovely frivolity of this has kept me bemused all day.