October 29, 2017 by Gurur Yıldız
That human behavior is more influenced by things outside of us than inside. The ‘situation’ is the external environment. –Philip Zimbardo
Is there any chance of explaining clearly that what is the ‘situation’ for sapiens of hominids? Is it the relation between other sapiens? Physics rules of our universe? The man we love? The woman we want to kiss?
Maybe just everything that our perception let us… OR the exact opposite version of our perception: the mystery.
Mystery creates a wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand. – Neil Armstrong
If we really ‘desire’ to understand things that much, our perception should interfere with the mysteries, shouldn’t it? That means we are converting mysteries into realities and that’s because one century’s mysteries becoming next one’s reality.
At this point, we can easily say that mysteries are our external environments which can influence our behavior. So anyone can influence our behavior with changing the ‘situation’ like we are doing to laboratory rats or hamsters as Calhoun did.
The true mystery of the world is visible, not the invisible. – Oscar Wilde
Dr. Calhoun was an ethologist who studied mainly behavior of mice and rats at the National Institutes of Health (USA). One of most shocking experiments performed by the behavioral researcher is known as the Mouse Utopia Experiment which is also called the Universe 25.
During the experiment, a group of eight mice was living in ideal environmental conditions. The utopian universe provided rodents with unlimited access to everything necessary for the animals to survive. The mice were provided with food, water, and nesting material. Everything was available at their paw tips.
The four pairs of mice were living in an enclosed square area of 2.57m x 2.57m. They had the already mentioned unlimited access to food, water, and materials needed to build nests. The resources were calculated in such way that the mice could live without worrying about anything. The temperature was maintained at 20-30°C and it would change depending on the month. The inhabitants of the utopian universe enjoyed delicate and pleasant wind generated by a fan. Every four to eight weeks the whole area was cleaned out, removing the leftovers, excrement, and other municipal waste. The sterility was also maintained, so the mice were free from any serious diseases. No predators had access to the mouse utopia; therefore, the animals didn’t have to fight for their lives.
Basically, the animals were living in paradise. They were safe, full, warm, and their houses were cleaned. Actually, they didn’t have to do a thing. Although the beginning of the experiment seems ordinary, the course of the study, as well as the results, are quite astonishing.
When the mice population arrived around 700, they became overpopulated and socially isolated. They just entered sleep-eat-sleep phase. Like in the metropolitan cities of sapiens, they suffered lack of social interactions and became individuals. Their main goal was slowly shaped as find food in this crowd, then just leave that chaos and rest.
That’s why they slowly forgot their normal-life actions including having sex or caring for their young which called by Calhoun as ‘Behaviroal Sink’. At this stage, their birth ratio went down to 0% and they went for their total self-extinction. Unfortunately, at the end, there were no mice left except the beautiful ones which Calhoun took out.
The last children of this experiment are called ‘the beautiful ones’. They didn’t have any mice instincts and Calhoun stated that they aren’t mice anymore. He decided to put them into another habitat which everything is normal. Unfortunately, they couldn’t manage to harmonize with other mice groups, they were just eating and sleeping. It was too late for them…
This can be the worst existential crisis experience for a living. Poor beautiful ones…
Back to sapiens, nowadays they’re planning to settle into Mars because of overpopulation causes and other uncontrollable ‘situations’ on Earth. They are trying to select their strongest, smartest newbies maybe ‘the beautiful ones’ for this mission.
On the other hand, what if we are already beautiful ones of the other universes? Maybe someone/something already changed ‘the situation’ of our habitat so we are here.
That would be very helpful for explaining our existential crisis, isn’t it?
Sorry, I’m just overthinking, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”.
– but sometimes not.
For Further Reading
Calhoun, J. B. (1973). Death squared: the explosive growth and demise of a mouse population. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 66(1 Pt 2), 80.
Freedman, J. L. (1975). Crowding and behavior. WH Freedman.
Author info: Gurur Yıldız, Experimental Social Psychology Program (Baskent Un., Ankara) | email: yildiz.gurur [AT] gmail[.]com