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Peer Effects in "The Christmas Story"

by Charity-Joy Acchiardo

In a clip from the 1983 comedy “A Christmas Story”, we are presented with a short vignette told by a reminiscing narrator. As he puts it “there was no going back” when social pressure set and Flick accepted the “triple dog dare” to stick his tongue onto a frozen flag pole. His tongue freezes onto the pole, but nobody in the group helps him, confesses to the mishap or blames anyone for it. Once he is released by the fire department, they all clap in relief. People often adjust their behavior to conform with the choices of others, either partially or fully and behavioral economic theories attribute this tendency to factors like social sanction, signalling, or simply learning from others' choices. In accepting the challenge, Flick may have done so for fear of sanction or as a sign of his fearlessness. The children seemed to be learning from each others’ choices as they abandoned Flick one by one. Once the little girl points the teacher to Flick, she does so discretely without the group seeing her finger, suggesting fear of sanction if she were to behave differently from the group.

Peer Effects in "The Christmas Story"

Due to social pressure, Flick accepts the triple dog dare to stick his tongue onto a frozen flag pole. One by one his friends leave him when his tongue freezes over. People often adjust their behavior to conform with the choices of others.

from The Christmas Story (1983)
Creator: Benjamin "Bob" Clar
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Posted by Charity-Joy Acchiardo
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