Newton’s third law of motion applied to Christmas cards.

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.


About vocationalgirl

I am a strategic planner, neurotic wordsmith and art lover with a penchant for anything digital- my forte being digital marketing. I love that this field encompasses both creativity as well as a thorough understanding of data analytics- it is a true social science that bases company revenue on modeling client behavior in the online space, looking at means to optimize conversion and effectively modifying behavior. I am a perpetual executive student, and am currently in the midst of completing my MBA at the top rated business university in Africa (GIBS). My academic interests include: Increasing social mobility in emerging markets through technology. The ekphrasic relationship between abstract expressionist art and poetry. French feminist theory and its applications for women working in male gendered roles. Skills: Digital strategic planning Conversion optimization Web Analytics Digital media strategy Project management Writing and editing
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3 Responses to Newton’s third law of motion applied to Christmas cards.

  1. holditnow says:

    The science of Christmas cards – brilliant.

  2. Bruno says:

    Your “Newton’s law” also applies fortunately to “smiles” : give a smile to a stranger, get a smile in return…

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