Are you organizing or leading an event during the first two weeks of February? If so, consider including our lively, instructional, fun Valentine’s Day Activity as part of your program to illustrate how people:
- Adapt to (and may thus overlook) what is familiar when seeking a solution to a problem.
- Respond to a question, but not necessarily the question asked.
In this activity you will place some lotion on a participant’s hand and ask them “What is on your right hand?” They will probably say “lotion.” You will then touch their left hand (but put nothing on it) and ask them “What is on your left hand?” They will probably say “nothing.” The correct answer is “my engagement and/or wedding ring.” Most likely the participant has adapted to their rings and has interpreted your question to be “What did you put on my hand?” rather than “What is on my hand?” Have fun with the activity. Detailed instructions follow below. Make lots of photos and/or video. Present your participant with some nice prizes. Share the phots and videos with us, but most importantly don’t forget to explain the value of the activity to your participants:
- Don’t overlook answers which are right in front of you.
- Be sure that you are addressing the question being asked or responding to the point being made, not an incorrect interpretation of the question or point.
Prior to the beginning of your program:
- Identify an adventuresome individual wearing a wedding and/or engagement ring3.
- Obtain individuals consent to participate in a demonstration in which “the surprises will begin when the blindfold goes on.”
- Have participant sit close to an aisle or in front row so they can come up on stage quickly when called.
- Invite selected participant to come up on stage.
- Ask participant to stand behind a chair and rest both hands on the back of the chair.
- Blindfold participant.
- Apply lotion to participants right (or left) hand (the one without the wedding and/or engagement ring(s)).
- Ask participant what is on their right (or left) hand. They will probably say “lotion” or “something wet.”
- Ask “what kind of lotion.” They probably won’t know.
- Suggest participant smell hand.
- Ask “what kind of lotion.” They will most likely correctly identify the lotion (or come close enough).
- Repeat Steps 4 to 8 with different lotions, if desired.
- Simply touch participant’s left (or right) hand (the one with the wedding and/or engagement ring(s)). Don’t put anything on it!
- Ask participant what is on their left (or right) hand. They will probably say “lotion” or “nothing.”
- Encourage participant to smell left hand.
- Ask what is on left hand. They will probably say “nothing.”
- Repeat Steps 10 to 13 many times. They will probably continue to say “nothing.”
- Place cloth ring on participant’s right (or left) hand (the hand without the wedding and/or engagement ring(s)).
- Ask participant what is on their right (or left) hand. They will probably say “a hair scrunchie” or “a ring.” If they say “hair scrunchie” simply say “or a ring.”
- Ask participant what is on left (or right) hand. They may repeat nothing or may say “my ring” which is the correct answer.
- If they don’t say “my ring”, start giving clues like asking about where they got engaged, married, etc.
- Ask what is on left (or right) hand.
- Eventually they will say “my wedding and/or engagement ring.”
- Secure blindfold which does not permit participant to see anything through or under the blindfold (or bandana lined with aluminum foil)
- Small sample bottle(s) of lotion(s)
- Hair scrunchie
- Ron would like to thank Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments.
- Ron would like to thank Teacher Tracey Cook for her awesome participation in this activity at the Rhode Island High School Psychology teachers Network on January 14 in Cranston, Rhode Island (USA) and for allowing her photo to be included with this article.
- 3if you do not have participants with wedding/engagement ring, another type of ring which participant wears regularly will do. No rings, nail polish will do.