The observable examined

Mangos and kings

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Whoever said watching TV is bad? I subscribe to some South Asian channels. On one of them, a program that explores both sides (pros/cons, for/against) of a theme or topic, is aired regularly. I happened to watch it today because I was interested in the story that the compere had just started to narrate. It went like this….

Once a king was traveling with his coterie. All of a sudden a stone flew his way and struck him in the head. He started to bleed. In anger, he thundered that the perpetrator who heaved the stone be brought to him at once. His men fanned out and came back with a woman who had confessed to committing the act. The king asked the woman, in a menacing voice, why she had thrown the piece of rock. She humbly replied that her little son was hungry and she was trying to knock down a mango from the tree to relieve his hunger. In an instant change of mood, the king ordered the woman be given 10,000 gold coins. The people gathered were taken aback by this and asked the king to explain his action. They had expected punishment. The king replied, “Just as the mango tree responds to a stone thrown at it with a mango, I felt I should respond to this women’s need by helping her.”

It is well known in the psychological literature that even when the available information is identical, you can arrive at completely different decisions, depending on your frame of reference. This is illustrated beautifully in the tale above (if the king had primarily identified with his royal status he may have behaved very differently).


Written by asterix98

September 2, 2011 at 5:10 am

Posted in reference frames

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