Today I woke up to the headline that Khloé Kardashian brought her own lighting gear and crew to her driver’s license photo.
How silly. How vain. Khloé wanted her new ID photo to be better than what comes “out of the box”. The author of the article advised readers that if you pull a move like this “expect people to make fun of you.”
But, I think that’s actually the biggest secret to the Kardashian family’s success…
In 1968, Bibb Latané and John Darley, professors of Psychology at Columbia and New York University respectively, performed an experiment. They would put a test subject in a room and have that subject answer a questionnaire. But then they created an emergency. The room would start to fill with smoke from a vent. No alarms. No one else in the room. Just a growing uncomfortable amount of smoke.
75% of the test subjects reported the smoke. It’s a little surprising it’s not even closer to 100% isn’t it?
Then Latané and Darley changed the experiment conditions and added two other people to the room who were “in on the gag” and were instructed to not react to the smoke.
This time only 10% of the new test subjects reported the smoke!
But here’s where it really got strange. You might argue that we all know how important social proof is. You forced these other people to not react. Of course there’s going to be pressure on the test subject to stay still.
So they modified the experiment a third time, 3 new test subjects in the room, and now all three were naive of what really was happening in the experiment as they answered their surveys.
Of the 24 people in this part of the experiment, only 1 person reported smoke coming in the room within the first 4 minutes. After the experiment was concluded, still only 3 people total said anything at all.
This is crazy.
Being exposed to public view may constrain an individual’s actions as he attempts to avoid possible ridicule and embarrassment.
It’s called the Bystander effect. It’s also a huge reason that fire alarms need to exist. Not because it’s a signal for fire. But as Eliezer Yudkowsky writes for the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (h/t Max Temkin for pointing out the research):
The fire alarm tells us that it’s socially okay to react to the fire. It promises us with certainty that we won’t be embarrassed if we now proceed to exit in an orderly fashion.
“That we won’t be embarrassed.”
Keeping up with the Kardashians, or KUWTK, has been on for 14 seasons. And they just signed a $150 million deal to keep it going at least another 5. It’s been a mega successful show and it’s catapulted the careers of everyone involved. Even one of the youngest of the Kardashian clan, Kylie, started a makeup company. She made $44 million last year. The company is expected to be worth $1 billion in the next 5 years. She’ll be 25.
One of the things that’s most interesting to me about the show is that it doesn’t do what you might most expect — making the lives of the Kardashians look brilliant.
If you watch, you’ll see arguments. Jealousy. Dumb mistakes. Neurosis. Trouble with weight.
This isn’t stuff anyone wants to air to others. Believe me, I’m constantly filming my life and showing it to the world on YouTube, and I’m constantly editing out a bunch of these same moments.
As Khloe told People: “Not every episode is juicy to us; it’s only juicy to the audience.” But they do it anyways.
And look what that attitude has done for them. Most people would love to have a better picture on their driver’s license. Khloé’s the only one who actually does something about it.
You know what the big difference is between the Kardashians and most of the rest of us? They report the smoke.
P.S. You should follow me on YouTube: youtube.com/nathankontny where I share more about how we run our business, do product design, market ourselves, and just get through life. And if you need a zero-learning-curve system to track leads and manage follow-ups, try Highrise.