Mindworks’ Weblog

Thinking Matters

Behaving like a scientist

Posted by Andrew Cooper on July 29, 2008

One of the many excellent features of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (see numerous previous posts) is that it encourages those who use it to ‘behave like a scientist’. This involves thinking about your attitudes and feelings and the ‘negative automatic thoughts’ which could be driving them, identifying how you might think and act differently, and then testing these changes in day-to-day life to see what happens.

This post isn’t about CBT, though, but the general idea of experimenting. I’m currently running two small psychological experiments related to behaviour and the web. One of them, which I launched last week, involved building a four page website related to something which had really annoyed me. I don’t want to go into details, but the results so far are, to my mind, very interesting.

I built the website in about 90 minutes – it looks pretty good, and makes use of the usual web technologies (Youtube etc) to get its point over. After I built it I emailed about 50 national media organisations (newspapers, radio, TV), relevant pressure groups and a few high-profile blogs. The email was very short (yes, I know, unusual for me) and included what I thought was an irresistible invitation to visit my new site and to pass details on to others.

The site has received a total of about 30 hits in total over the past five days (this blog has regularly exceeded that on a daily basis for some time). So, only 60% of those to whom I sent the email have actually clicked on the link and they certainly haven’t passed on details or mentioned it on their blogs or websites.

I have a couple of theories about why this might be the case but, as they say, further research is needed to test them. In the meantime I think this illustrates the difficulties of getting a message over via the web. As I noted in a previous post I knew this already, but I’m keen to find out more about the best combination of the web and other means of communication.

Incidentally, I bought the rights to use the not-entirely-relevant cartoon from this excellent site which I discovered via Google earlier this morning. As you’ll see if you visit it, they are based in Bath – coincidentally the start of the Kennet and Avon bike ride (see yesterday’s post) that Sam and I took yesterday. More on that, including some Flip video via Youtube, later in the week when I’ve had a chance to edit it. The video will feature some of the innovations which made the canal possible.

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