Improv Everywhere is a comedic performance art group based in New York City, formed in 2001 by Charlie Todd. (Wikipedia) It carries out missions aimed at causing “scenes of chaos and joy in public places”. One of its missions is The No Pants Subway Ride, which is an annual event held worldwide. In this event, participants enter the subway train at consecutive stops without wearing their pants, as you can see in the above video. When asked, the participants simply say that they “forgot” their pants.
If you have watched the video, notice the reactions of the “pants-wearing” passengers on the subway? Some were looking around wondering what was going on, staring at the “no-pants” passengers, asking questions. Others looked a little uncomfortable, while a few took pictures. One woman was even pretty impressed when she saw that there were actually more people not wearing pants.
Now, if you were one of those who did not get the memo on The No Pants Subway Ride, you would probably be wondering why all these people were without pants. Some would have thought that these people have gone insane, or maybe it is a protest of some kind (what protest involves you not wearing pants, I don’t know). There might be some who would not even bother about the “no-pants” thing. You might think, “So what’s new? The world’s full of crazy people.”
The point here is that you, like the people in the video, would have attributed a cause as to why some of the passengers were not wearing pants. Attribution is the “process of assigning cause to human behaviour”. What caused these people to be without pants? Are they going to continue this crazy antic in the future? What does this behaviour say about them?
One of the common errors of attribution is that we “assume that the cause for behaviour is the person, not the situation”. In this case, most people would have thought that all these “no-pants” people have lost their minds. I mean, is it so hard to put on some pants when you are in public? They probably would not have thought that these people were actually celebrating the 10th Annual No Pants Subway Ride.
So, what would you guys have thought was going on with these “no-pants” people? Would you have realised that it was just an event, all in the fun of causing “scenes of chaos and joy”?
To learn more about Improv Everywhere and their missions, you can visit their website: