Dave’s Theories #1: Social Conducivity as a Framework and Predictive Model of Interpersonal Interaction

Dave’s Crazy Theories #1: Social Conducivity as a Framework and Predictive Model of Interpersonal Interaction

By David Metcalfe

September 20, 2017

The Hook of Mormons: Receiving Social Forgiveness

Mormons are some of my favourite people in the world. Socially, they are dramatically better than evangelical Christians. I’ve been to many evangelical churches where I show up by myself, and literally no one talks to me. When I go out of my way to talk to someone, they are often like, “what the heck? Why are you talking to me?”. Try doing that at a Mormon church. I’ve visited several Mormon churches and I can’t take three steps into the building before a crowd of people come to meet me. You might think that they are putting on a show on the exterior, and deep down they are insincere. That’s what I initially thought, but after spending a lot of time with them, I can tell that they are sincere. They will genuinely spend time to make you feel welcome, and they do a lot of fun things. A part of me would like to believe Mormonism, but unfortunately, it’s not really something a thinking person can honestly believe, in my opinion. However, they are awesome people, and I always enjoy hanging out with them.

Since they are incredibly nice, they are always happy to chat with you, and are very socially forgiving. What I mean by that is, if you were to say, what I call a social “faux pas”, they don’t mind at all, and will often make a positive social response to it. For example, if I said, “There’s a lot of green people in the world”, most people would dismiss it, change the subject, or stop talking to me. Mormons will make an express attempt to understand it and create a positive response. So if I say, “There’s a lot of green people in the world”, they would respond with something like, “Yeah, everyone’s trying to be so eco-friendly these days” or “Always trying to keep up with the Jones’s!” or possibly, “Hopefully not going around smashing everything like the Incredible Hulk!”. Those responses signify an attempt to restore a social imbalance that was created by my weird comment. People need to make sense of the comment in some way, and since “green” is rather ambiguous, there are a number of ways you can take it. But really, it doesn’t matter which way you take it. The point is, addressing the weird comment in any way that possibly connects it to something people understand is going to do wonders for what I call “social conducivity”.

Theoretical Concepts Underlying the Creation of “Conducivity”

You might be thinking, “Hey! ‘Conducivity’ isn’t a real word!”. Yeah, I know. I made it up to explain a theory in social psychology that I am developing. Social Conducivity is defined as the ability for individuals in a social group to achieve their goals. The root word “conducive” means to make a certain situation or outcome likely or possible. The outcome being made likely by social conducivity is limiting awkwardness in order to attain to the functions and goals of the social group. The antagonist to social conducivity is social awkwardness. Awkwardness is defined as causing difficulty or inconvenience. This hinders the ability to achieve the goals of a social group. Anything that creates social awkwardness is not socially conducive and anything that prevents social awkwardness is socially conducive. Social Conducivity Theory operates on three basic principles:

1) Input Stimulation: there needs to be some kind of input that gives the social interaction substance and drive. It may come in the form of an anecdote, new information on a mutual interest, observation (current or past), or indulging relatability, among others. Input stimulation is necessary for initiating and continuing the interaction, but unfortunately, it often puts the interaction “off balance”.

2) Balance Restoration: there needs to be maintenance of a certain flow in the interaction. Once the interaction is put off balance, social awkwardness develops. It requires that there be an equal and opposite reaction for every action. If I say, “I just won the lottery!”, the respondent needs to react with adequate surprise. If I say, “My dog just died”, the respondent needs to react with adequate sadness. Those examples are both great inputs, but they also put the interaction off balance. That balance needs to be restored through the response.

3) Cultivating Engagement: there needs to be some kind of response that allows the input stimulation to adequately cultivate. For example, if I said, “Hey, did you see the Jays game last night?” and they respond, “Yes”…and nothing else, I have just given a great input, but it was not adequately cultivated. That creates awkwardness. In order for this interaction to be conducive, there needs to be some kind of furthered stimulation off of the initial input stimulation. If they saw the Jays game, and I ask about it, they need to respond, “Yes” and then provide cultivation with something like, “that was a crazy ending”. That allows me to then make a comment about something specific in the game’s ending that provides relatability, new info, or an opinion. Cultivation is what allows the initial input to move into creating engagement in the interaction.

Socializing the Skateboarder

As someone who enjoys skateboarding, I’d like to employ that as an analogy for this theory. How fun is it to stand on a skateboard and not move anywhere? Well, it’s obviously boring and impractical. It needs to move. It can move in two main ways: you can use your foot to push it, or you can go down a ramp or hill of some kind. That’s the input stimulation. When you are in a boring situation, like in an elevator or a car, you need to manually push the social interaction by providing your own input stimulation. However, when you are in a fun and exciting environment, like a party or a good show, the input stimulation is provided for you. That’s like going down a hill or ramp. Since the environment around you provides the movement, you don’t need to do the work yourself. That’s why it is harder to make conversation in an elevator than at a party; it’s the difference between pushing your skateboard and just going down a hill. Our environment has the potential to create or dissuade input stimulation.

Moving on your skateboard is great, but it puts you off balance. That balance needs to be restored if you want to avoid falling, which is why a skateboarder will naturally adjust their weight after pushing off or going down a ramp. When a social interaction receives input stimulation, there needs to be that same balance restoration so as to prevent falling into social awkwardness. A statement like, “Nice weather today” is fairly neutral, and doesn’t create much imbalance, whereas a statement like, “American democracy is a façade” creates more imbalance. Cultivating engagement is when you restore and maintain that balance and continue gliding on the skateboard, with adequate input whenever the board starts to slow down.

Basically, if all three criteria are satisfied in a social interaction, there will be no social awkwardness. Now, you might think, “That’s it? All that thinking just to make things less awkward?”. If you think that, you are misunderstanding the incredible damage that social awkwardness causes, and the incredible benefits that social conducivity creates. If perfect conducivity existed in an interaction, people would feel an amazing sense of belonging, become interconnected in powerful ways, and no conflicts would ever occur. There would be increased relationship fulfillment and peace in the world. Unfortunately, no group I’ve ever come across has been able to adequately satisfy all three criteria, at least not for any length of time. Several groups, however, have come very close.

Joseph Smith Didn’t Restore Christianity, But He Did Restore Balance

As I mentioned previously, Mormon young adults are very good socially. They do fantastic balance restoration. Based on my research, I have reason to believe that it comes from having to go door-to-door for two years as missionaries when they leave high school. Trying to sell alarm systems door-to-door was very difficult for me. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to try to sell religion, especially one where you have to convince people that we all came from the planet Kolob and you have to enter a secret temple to marry dead people. To get anywhere with people in that kind of business, you need amazing balance restoration. The input stimulation that Mormon missionaries receive from people is incredibly off balance most of the time. Their conversations often go something like this:

“Hi! We are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am Elder Johnson and this is my companion, Elder Smith.”

“I don’t need your religious bullshit.”

“That’s what I used to think before I heard about Jesus Christ, and since then, my life has been full of joy and purpose. We’d love to give you the opportunity to hear how Jesus wants to give you that joy and purpose in your life as well!”

“I’m fine the way I am, stop wasting my time.” (Door Slam)

Right off the bat, the initial input is very low for conducivity and very high for awkwardness. Both sides of the interaction have a certain goal, and neither of them are likely to achieve it from the initial input stimulation. The conversation is off balance, and the response needs to restore that balance. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t. In fact, “I don’t need your religious bullshit” puts the interaction further off balance. There needs to be an incredibly restorative counter from the missionary to create any attempt at cultivating engagement, and the example I gave is one of the best possible phrases to do so, and is often employed by experienced missionaries. But all social interactions are a two-way street, and if the input stimulation is not sufficiently conducive to cultivating engagement, there is no amount of balance restoration that can sufficiently create social conducivity. Basically, social awkwardness is very common for missionaries, and social conducivity is very rare. Mormons learn to have incredible balance restoration over time as a result of the severe imbalance of their input stimulations that they have to give people for two years.

That is why, after months of interacting with Mormons, I have noticed very high balance restoration and somewhat poor input stimulation in my conversations with them. “There’s a lot of green people in the world” is a highly conducive input in comparison to “I don’t need your religious bullshit”. Learning to balance extremely off balance inputs has given them an incredible balance restoration ability. It’s not that evangelical Christians are not nice people, rather it’s that they have not had the opportunity to learn balance restoration to the same extent. That’s why I would way rather say a socially awkward statement around Mormons than evangelical Christians.

The reason Mormons are friendlier and more confident to interact with me is due to a number of factors. Increased balance restoration is certainly one, because they aren’t worried that you are going to say a statement that they can’t respond to. It also has to do with a number of cultural things such as their excessive promotion of evangelism, their highly supportive family and social community, and the necessary dedication to their religion in other ways. And you know how that person sitting next to you on the plane, who is afraid of flying, keeps telling you that planes are very safe and it’s going to be fine? They have a need to reassure themselves by getting you to affirm them. Their insecurity is their social motivation and ultimately defines their interaction. When you dedicate your life to a religion with no historical, scientific, or logical backing, you need to tell everyone that the plane is safe, because chances are, you’re the one having trouble believing that it is.

A Theoretical Scenario For High Conducivity

Imagine this scenario for a second: you create an interview process that measures social conducivity, and administer it to people all over United States. Out of the available participants, you choose the ten who rated the highest. You gather those 10 people and put them in a room together. How socially conducive will the interaction between the 10 people be?

It’s a trick question. You don’t yet have enough information to determine it. As I mentioned previously, social conducivity is the ability for individuals in a social group to achieve their goals. What if one person’s goal is to talk about politics and everyone else in the group hates talking about politics? The politics guy is going to, very likely, provide an input stimulation related to politics at some point, and it won’t be adequately restored or cultivated, which will create awkwardness. That’s why the group of 10 people, in order to achieve high conducivity, needs to have similar goals. It’s not enough to have the ability to be socially conducive individually.

The interview would need to not only test for social conducivity abilities like input quality, balance restoration and engagement cultivation, but would also need to gather people who have the same goals when the interaction takes place. Now we have the perfect theoretical model for how to create a group with the highest possible social conducivity. You just need two things: 1) high individual ratings on the three measures of social conducivity and 2) similar goals.

Actualized Participant Study: Star Socializing in the Springs

This supposed theoretical scenario isn’t actually theoretical at all. It’s actually the model that Axis uses to hire their employees. Axis is an organization that does journalism and public speaking at schools and conferences. The people who design and implement the hiring process don’t have an understanding of the theory behind it, they just know what they’re looking for in an employee based on trying to attain to an ideal of what kind of people will do well, and avoid people who are likely to do poorly. There are also just several obvious things that you need to be able to do, and qualities that are clearly necessary. For example, since you have to do a lot of public speaking, they ask you to submit videos of you talking about different topics so they can evaluate how effective your speaking is…pretty simple.

What the entire hiring process is actually doing is testing social conducivity. Since the organization has certain goals, they want people who can interact in a way that will increase the likelihood of achieving those goals. One interview question I was asked is, “What if a kid comes up to you after a presentation and says that they are questioning their gender identity? How would you respond?”. With our understanding of Social Conducivity Theory, we know that a person providing an initial input stimulation like that is creating a large imbalance, and the respondent would require very good balance restoration in order to be effective in meeting the goals of the organization. What they are evaluating in your response is your balance restoration ability based on your initial response, and then your ability to cultivate engagement by being knowledgeable and relatable. When they asked me this question, I answered something like this: “Thanks for sharing, it’s really good to share honestly with people about our struggles. Gender can be complicated, and sometimes there are certain expectations of who we should be based on that, and we don’t always fulfill them…etc, etc.”…you get the point. You’ll notice that I restored the balance in that first sentence by acknowledging and affirming (both are very good balance restorers), and then I began cultivating by employing my knowledge on the subject, and then relating it to the kid through that.

Basically, the main aspect of Axis’ selection process is testing the three measures of social conducivity in various ways, and hiring based on how high they are on that scale. But you’ll remember, there also needs to be similar goals. Axis takes only 22 year old, college graduate, Christian, highly sociable people into their internship program. They all are in the same place in life, they all have interest in higher education, they all have similar thoughts on life and morality, and they are all very sociable. When you take these 10 people and put them in a room together for 8 hours a day for a month, you get extremely high social conducivity.

I have to say, as a self-proclaimed social psychologist, it was a joy to watch. Sometimes I would just sit and watch people for several minutes and evaluate their social conducivity, and then I’d realize, “Oh crap, I haven’t said anything for the last 5 minutes, I better say something so I don’t seem like a weirdo.” Now, certain people were not very effective at making inputs that received cultivation, and it created awkwardness. But since these people are socially intelligent, they basically learned to reduce their inputs, so over time we started to see more and more inputs from the people that received balance and cultivation, and less and less from the people that didn’t.

That’s what literally everyone is doing (whether consciously or not) when they are talking in a social group. They are evaluating the potential for their input to be balanced and cultivated. Do you ever say something that creates awkward silence afterwards? Or you say something, and everyone gets annoyed at you? That’s the punishment of giving a poor input into a social group. Have you ever had everyone respond extremely positively to something you said? Or everyone burst into laughter at a joke you said? That’s the reward of giving a good input into a social group. Whenever we are thinking of saying something, we do a quick evaluation in our mind to consider whether we think we will receive a positive response. People who are good at predicting response to their inputs are good socially, and those who can’t predict it are poor socially. Being good socially is just as much about knowing what to say, as it is knowing what not to say.

One of my favorite academics, a sociologist named Clyde W. Franklin Jr., wrote a fantastic article back in 1971, called “Operant Concepts and Social Interaction”. It clearly lays out this concept of social reinforcement, and the potential effects it has. His ideas have inspired many academics, including aspiring ones like myself, to include that type of model in their theoretical approaches to social interaction of various kinds. It’s well worth the read for those who are weirdly obsessed with social psychology, like myself. The freaking link won’t work, but you should be able to find it by searching this in Google: “Operant Concepts and Social Interaction” (Franklin, 1971).

Drowning in Deep Thinking

While eating at a restaurant a few weeks ago, my friend said that I was quiet, to which my other friend disagreed, saying that I am very sociable. Well, actually, they’re both right. I am not good at providing inputs to group conversations, but I am amazing at balance restoration and cultivating engagement. So basically, I never start a conversation topic in a group, but I will always respond and develop the input that someone else gives. I didn’t really understand why that was, until I overheard this conversation one afternoon at work:

Person 1: “Hey, do you guys want to go see “It” tonight?”

Person 2: “Nah, I don’t like scary movies.”

Person 1: “Oh, it’s not that scary. Hey, Person 3, you should come!”

Person 3: “You know how porn dehumanizes someone as a sexual object?”

Person 1: “Umm…yeah?”

Person 3: “Do you think horror movies do the same thing by using violence to dehumanize people as an object of torment?”

Person 1: “Uhhh, yeah…anyway, does anyone else want to come?”

We can see here that person 1 provides a very good input stimulation by asking whether people want to see the movie, and person 2 is effective at balancing and cultivating it. It wasn’t that off balance to start with, so saying, “Nah” provided sufficient balance restoration. Then by saying “I don’t like scary movies”, they cultivate engagement, which gives person 1 an opportunity to respond with a balance. However, you probably noticed that person 3 gave a very socially awkward response. Person 1 failed to restore balance, and came nowhere close to cultivating engagement. The conversation fell so far out of balance that person 1 ended up just moving on to ask someone else.

But here’s the thing: person 3 had a brilliant response. That question is something you could write a PhD dissertation on. Unfortunately, no one had the time, ability, or desire to cultivate it in that context. I myself was sitting right next to them and said nothing. I knew that running down that trail would not be socially conducive, since the central goal of the social group was to ascertain potential attendance to the movie, not discuss the philosophy of it.

Why would person 3 ask such a question at such an inopportune time? What could have been going through their mind? Well, clearly their thoughts were way deeper than what was going on in person 1’s mind. That’s when I realized something: I’m a deep thinker. When people ask me about the weather, my mind wants to respond about why crime rates go up when it’s warm, or why people develop more intimate social community when it’s cold…but that would be a terrible input, and there’s an extremely low chance it would get cultivated. People want to hear, “the sun is so beautiful today!” or “it’s a little chillier than I like”. They want to hear some generic statement that a 2-year-old could say, and I’m not going to give it to them. I want to either engage in a meaningful conversation or say nothing at all. I have deep, well thought out inputs, and they don’t often get cultivated since everyone thinks on a surface level most of the time (especially growing up in rural Alberta, where idiocy is a way of life).

As I mentioned previously, lack of input cultivation is a social punishment that serves to eventually decrease input frequency. I’m not socially reserved because I’m shy. I’m socially reserved because my inputs have been negatively reinforced over time, causing me to keep my thoughts to myself. Socially outgoing people are simply people who are able to communicate on a surface level and provide effective inputs that get positively reinforced over time. Person 1 is socially outgoing because they are excellent at giving input stimulation. Person 1 is very poor, however, at balance restoration. Person 1 and I actually get along very well. We eat lunch together nearly every day. He provides inputs, and I balance and cultivate them. He often fails to adequately balance the inputs I give, but I don’t mind, so we get along.

Daaaang Girl…That’s Some Good Conducivity

Throughout the month of training together with the other interns, I made careful observations in natural settings, and also produced contrived scenarios so that I could evaluate their social conducivity. Sometimes, while in a one-on-one setting, I would purposely say things that didn’t make sense, and looked to see whether or not they would effectively balance and cultivate it. I called this the “individual awkward input scenario”. For example, one of the inputs I gave to many of them was, “If you think about it, salad is really just lettuce in a bowl.” It doesn’t make any sense, but it was fascinating to see their reaction. I said several of these to all of them at some point. Then I would compare their social conducivity ability in the “individual awkward input scenario”, to their social conducivity performance in the larger social group. What I was amazed to find, was a very strong correlation of “individual awkward input social conducivity rating” to “social group social conducivity rating”. Basically, if someone is able to effectively balance and restore an awkward statement that someone gives, they will do really well in a social group setting. The more I observed their group interactions, the more it made sense. Imagine being able to say a great response to anything anyone says. You would have high social performance in every environment you go to.

Although many of them have high social conducivity, there is one girl in particular who has possibly the highest rating I have ever seen. I can’t throw her off balance. It’s actually amazing. I routinely say very strange things to her and she constantly creates some kind of cultivation for it that works every time. I have grown to enjoy talking to her very much for that reason, and so has the rest of the group. Her inputs are very good, and I have yet to see her make a single input that has not been balanced and cultivated by the social group response. I will continue to use her as a case study. I just realized, if Axis people are reading this, they are going to be like, “what the heck, David? You’re using us as Guinea pigs in your weird social experiment?” Yes, I am. You should be honored. Lol.

Host With The Most: Late Night Marvels of Conducivity

There is a certain group of a select few people who get paid millions of dollars a year, and have become household names in America. No, they aren’t exceptional athletes, capable of incredible physical feats. No, they aren’t geniuses who invent amazing things to benefit the world. And no, they aren’t great humanitarians who devote their lives to serving others.

They simply talk.

Hey, I also talk a lot, and I bet you do to, but no one is going to pay us millions of dollars a year to do it. If I had a talk show, I might have 5 people watch it, and they probably wouldn’t last for more than 20 minutes. So, what’s the difference between the 300 million Americans who talk all the time, and the few who get paid millions to do it? Well, as you may have guessed, it all comes down to their social conducivity.

Remember when I said I enjoy hanging out with Mormons because of their balance restoration ability? Or how I really enjoy talking to that girl I work with because of her cultivation ability? We all love social conducivity. We all have goals in a social setting, and they are fulfilled when the interaction is conducive, which in turn fulfills our feeling of social belonging and affirmation. In fact, we love it so much that we will spend hours of our free time just watching other people talk.

I love late-night talk shows. My list of favorite to least favorite hosts goes something like: Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, John Oliver, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel, John Stewart, Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee, and lastly, Trevor Noah. As I watched their late-night broadcasts for months, I took note of their social conducivity, and found something that amazed me: the order of my favorites is nearly the exact same as my order of social conducivity rating. In fact, the ratings seem to follow pretty closely to social conducivity rating as well (Welch, 2017), although they are slightly less correlated since there are a number of additional extraneous variables (Canfield, 2017). My two favorite talk show hosts had a conversation on The Tonight Show and they tackle some difficult issues, especially religion, since Bill Maher is an atheist and Stephen Colbert is a Catholic. Remember how awkward it was when person 3 brought up dehumanizing people when they were simply asked to go to a movie? Late-night talk shows are supposed to be funny, light, and basically something you watch after you read about real news for the day so that you can have a laugh about it. Talking about religion is great, but it’s nearly impossible to cover a topic like that without it being socially awkward…that is, unless you have amazing social conducivity. The social conducivity in this interaction is off the charts. Take a look for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqAco8a7vEE

The first few lines:

Colbert: “They say at a dinner party you should never talk about sex, politics, or religion. Have you ever been invited to a dinner party in your life?”

Maher: “I probably wouldn’t be invited to your dinner party because we’re very opposite, right?”

Colbert: “Really? How so?”

Maher: “You’re married and religious.”

Colbert: “Uhhh…I’m married, and yeah I give religion a shot.”

The amount of conducivity on display is incredible. The initial input stimulation is very off balance, and Maher gives a balance that actually throws it off balance the other way, so that Colbert has to restore it. The rest of the interview is Maher giving very off balance, but very good, input stimulation, and Colbert standing on his head to keep it balanced. Just like how we like to watch people spin plates or walk across tight ropes, this conversation is one of the greatest balancing acts of all. People are not spending time and money to watch people talk. Anyone can talk. What they are spending time and money on is marveling at the input stimulation, the balance restoration, and the engagement cultivation. It is a masterpiece of social conducivity.

Hopes For Application and Further Study

Conflict Prevention:

Social Conducivity Theory states that conflict, or argument, results when an interaction is off balance, and is not able to be restored. It’s like if the skateboarder goes down the ramp, but doesn’t shift his weight, and so he falls. Conflict nearly always occurs as a result of unbalanced input stimulations. The best example of this is summed up in the 2011 movie, “Carnage”. The entire movie takes place in one room, but to me, it never got boring. The parents are settling a school yard dispute between their kids, and the conversation begins very balanced. John C. Reilly’s and Kate Winslet’s characters are fantastic balance restorers, while Christophe Waltz’s and Jodie Foster’s characters keep putting the conversation off balance. Eventually, balance is not able to be restored, and massive conflict breaks out for the entire last half of the movie. You can get the gist of it from the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPX6-4Bo7XU (Streaming Clips, 2011).

Understanding why and how conflict occurs will do wonders for prevention and intervention strategies. This can be applied to marriage counseling, workplace disputes, customer service, teacher-student interactions, and many more. What people need to learn, in order to reduce conflict, is the ability to restore balance. Mormons rarely ever get in arguments with people, because they have had two years of training in balance restoration strategies.

Social Anxiety Treatment

As someone who suffers from social anxiety, and who also overthinks everything, I have become an expert on managing and treating anxiety. For those that know me personally, you might be thinking, “Really? David has social anxiety?” Yes, I do, and it’s been fairly severe at times. In fact, it’s the reason I nearly dropped out of university in my third year. I was afraid to talk in group social situations for a number of years, and I didn’t know why. When I even thought about saying something, my heart would race and my hands would get sweaty. I was a weirdo.

I eventually learned to cope with it, and I no longer suffer anxiety much at all. Now I talk in group situations for hours every day. It’s a big part of my job, actually. When I began to reflect back on it, I realized that Social Conducivity Theory has a fantastic explanation for my symptoms and recovery.

Imagine this scenario: person 1 plays guitar, but it’s not all that important to him. He has a lot of other things in life that he cares a lot more about. While at a friend’s house, there is a guitar sitting in the living room. He picks it up and starts playing a song, and part way through someone yells, “Dude, you suck at guitar!”. How hurt would this guy be? Maybe like a 2/10.

But imagine this scenario: person 2 plays guitar, and it’s the most important thing in the world to him. He plays it every day, and has quit school to focus on playing guitar full time. While at a friend’s house, there is a guitar sitting in the living room. He picks it up and starts playing a song, and part way through someone yells, “Dude, you suck at guitar!”. How hurt would this guy be? Probably devastated.

It appears that there is a strong correlation between caring about something, and feeling hurt when not affirmed in it. I think so deeply and intensely about everything, that nearly every comment I make is something that I have grown to care about very much. Unfortunately, my inputs end up being a lot like the person who brought up the philosophy of horror movies and created social awkwardness. I was terrified of my thoughts not being cultivated, and they almost never were. Since my parents didn’t support me pursuing my real interests in sociology, psychology, and philosophy, I was pressured into doing a more practical degree in kinesiology. I never liked it, and I was never affirmed in it. I had incredibly intelligent thoughts about things, but I would get 70% on my physiology quiz while the dumb jock beside me got 80%. My inputs were always way off of the goals of the rest of the class. We would talk about ligaments in the knee, and I would raise my hand and ask about the etymology of the term “ligaments”. No one cared, and the thoughts I inputted, which were very important to me, did not receive adequate balance or cultivation.

When I was finally able to take psychology and sociology courses in my fourth year, I loved it. There, I could ask questions, make comments, even challenge the professors, and I received lots of balance and cultivation. Then, when I graduated and started working at Axis, I received lots more of it! Now, I’m confident to talk lots in social groups, I just need to understand the goals of the group so that I can make proper inputs and be affirmed though adequate balance and cultivation. I hope that Social Conducivity can help people who are struggling with social anxiety to understand why they don’t feel comfortable speaking, and make recommendations and strategies for them to recover.

Career Success:

Clearly, the plethora of talk show hosts who all exhibit high rates of social conducivity have all achieved career success through it. Mormon missionaries with high conducivity are much more effective at getting converts. The job I work at right now did specific tests that rated social conducivity in their hiring process. In fact, most jobs do, and I would suggest that social conducivity rating is the strongest predictor of career success. Stephane Cote’s article, recently published in The Journal of Organizational Dynamics, found that managers have dramatically better success when they are able to employ emotional intelligence to achieve social goals (Cote, 2017). In an article from Forbes, written by Travis Bradberry, who is a leading expert in career success, he says that emotional intelligence is the best predictor of career success (Bradberry, 2015). The four things he says emotional intelligence is made up of is self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Did you notice that all four things are critical factors in having high social conducivity? I hope that social conducivity will be used to help people aspire to and attain the jobs that they will feel truly fulfilled in, not being hindered by social awkwardness, but rather achieving their individual goals through social group interaction, and thus reaching their potential.

Hopes For Future Study:

Prison Fellowship

Last week, I got the opportunity to meet a bunch of the important people that work with Prison Fellowship. Feeling inspired from my chats with them, and my excessive personal research into criminology and restorative justice, I volunteered to work with prisoners teaching life skills classes and doing Bible studies. I look forward to learning about the criminal justice system in a more personal and interactive way, so that I can hopefully one day work to implement strategies to make life better for prisoners, while simultaneously reducing crime. I also am very interested to see their social conducivity. Most of them have not had career success. 7/10 prisoners in Colorado don’t even have a high school diploma, according to the Vice President of Prison Fellowship. I predict that they will have very low social conducivity, and that many of my interactions with them, and the interactions I observe between them, will have a lot of social awkwardness. One thing I would like to teach them is balance restoration strategies, since I believe that it will reduce conflict, and help them to be more socially conducive to one another during their sentence, and then to their family and potential employment upon release.

Romantic Relationships

I would like to take time to observe romantic couples in their social interactions with one another, and compare their social conducivity to their overall relationship fulfillment. I predict that higher social conducivity will be positively correlated with relationship fulfillment.

Career Success

I would like to observe people in high income brackets, and compare their social conducivity rating to those in low income brackets. I predict that higher social conducivity will be positively correlated with increased income.


Mormons, my coworkers, and late-night talk show hosts all have one thing in common: they have fantastic ability to balance inputs that might otherwise be awkward. Far from being insignificant, this ability serves to do wonders in things like conflict prevention, anxiety treatment, and career success. Having quality inputs to a social interaction comes from understanding the goals of the group and attaining to them. Having quality balance restoration comes from understanding the statement made, and responding in a way that leads to cultivation. Having quality cultivation comes from being in a goal-oriented inputted, well balanced conversation, and finding ways to add information, an opinion, or be relatable. When all three work together, it creates one of the most valuable assets that a person, and a social group, can have: social conducivity.

If you have feedback on my theory, I’d love to hear it! Just send me an email at dmetcalf@ualberta.ca.


Bradberry, T. (2015). Why you need emotional intelligence to succeed. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2015/01/07/why-you-need-emotional-intelligence-to-succeed/#3497e4d46246

Canfield, D. (2017). Why Stephen Colbert is suddenly the most popular person in late night. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/late-show-ratings-stephen-colbert-is-the-most-popular-in-late-night-2017-2

Cote, S. (2017). Enhancing managerial effectiveness via four core facets of emotion intelligence: Self-awareness, social perception, emotion understanding, and emotion regulation. Organizational Dynamics. 46(3), p. 140-147. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orgdyn.2017.05.007

Franklin, C. (1971). Operant Concepts and Social Interaction. The Pacific Sociological Review, 14(1), 5-19. doi: 10.2307/1388250

Streaming Clips. (2011). Carnage Trailer 2011 – Official [HD]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPX6-4Bo7XU

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. (2015). Stephen attempts to convert Bill Maher. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqAco8a7vEE

Welch, A. (2017). Late-night ratings, Feb. 6-10, 2017: “Late Show” scores best week in over a year. TV By The Numbers. Retrieved from http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/weekly-ratings/late-night-ratings-feb-6-10-2017/







































Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s