Showing posts with label fame. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fame. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Profiling Hoaxers: The Psychology of Fame

Money and power are handy, but millions of ambitious people are after something other than the corner office or the beach house on St. Bart’s. They want to swivel necks, to light a flare in others’ eyes, to walk into a crowded room and feel the conversation stop. --Benedict Carey, New York Times

The News Tribune of Tacoma Washington, ran a story today about Cliff Cook. For those unfamiliar with Cliff Crook he is responsible for the photo in Benjamin Radford presentation below. The photo has been revealed as a hoax and has become a trophy to skeptics, along with the Frozen Georgia Bigfoot. They will probably be followed soon by the Sylvanic Bigfoot video footage.

What motivates hoaxers? I always get the sense that they believe in Bigfoot, despite the hoax. There has to be a more complete answer to their motivations. I wanted to know the psychology behind it. Oddly enough, there is not a lot of studies on hoaxing, but that's because hoaxing is really a polite term for what these "hoaxes" really are. These "hoaxes" are really lies, fraudulent lies. Y'see a real hoax is like what you see on Candid Camera, April Fools, etc. Proven hoaxes are lies. I'm not trying to be harsh, but if we are honest we might be able to understand motives better.

So why lie? Some have speculated greed as the motivation. After all, there is money to be made in the Bigfoot/CryptoZ industry. The only issue is, any proven "hoax" has never been profitable in the long-run. Although you can argue "hoaxers" are short-sighted and gambling on the bet they will not be caught, I think there is something that is a far stronger motivator. Fame.

Before you say, "Duh!" Give me a chance to be more specific. Fame is much more than "getting attention," it is deeper than that, its fulfilling a "need." Understanding a hoaxer's desire to attain fame can provide a few clues to overall psychological make-up of Bigfoot hoaxers. Let me quote Benedict Carey of New York Times.

For most of its existence, the field of psychology has ignored fame as a primary motivator of human behavior: it was considered too shallow, too culturally variable, too often mingled with other motives to be taken seriously. But in recent years, a small number of social scientists have begun to study and think about fame in a different way, ranking it with other goals, measuring its psychological effects, characterizing its devoted seekers.

People with an overriding desire to be widely known to strangers are different from those who primarily covet wealth and influence. Their fame-seeking behavior appears rooted in a desire for social acceptance, a longing for the existential reassurance promised by wide renown.

In a 1996 study, Richard M. Ryan of the University of Rochester and Dr. Kasser, then at Rochester, conducted in-depth surveys of 100 adults, asking about their aspirations, guiding principles, and values, as well as administering standard measures of psychological well-being.

The participants in the study who focused on goals tied to others’ approval, like fame, reported significantly higher levels of distress than those interested primarily in self-acceptance and friendship.

Surveys done since then, in communities around the world, suggest the same thing: aiming for a target as elusive as fame, and so dependent on the judgments of others, is psychologically treacherous.

We think there is a lot more to to this, and although we can't assume whether a "hoaxer" is really interested in finding Bigfoot, we can assume finding Bigfoot is not their first priority. Don't get us wrong, we are extremely inclusive here at BLC, good research and theories can come from anywhere. As far as "hoaxers" go? We feel a "hoaxers" are repeat offenders. And we should always be leery when they appear back in the news.

Dislamer: I don't want anybody to think I am a "hater." I already have my claim to fame. My fame peaked in 2008 and I'm okay with that.

Cliff Cook Article at The News Tribune
The Fame Motive at The New York Times
Loren Coleman Weighs-in

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