Monday, July 7, 2014

Case Study No. 1423: Unnamed Female Librarian (Horizon)

BBC Horizon Blink A Guide To The Senses Librarian touch
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Added: 2 months ago
From: Angelina Distya
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[scene opens with various shots of "public displays of affection" in a park]
KEVIN FONG: [in voice over] For us, even as adults, the briefest touch can have a surprisingly powerful effect.
[cut to footage of an academic library, taken from the 1979 episode of "Horizon" entitled "A Touch of Sensitivity"]
VERNON JOYNER: [in voice over] At this library at Purdue University, Indiana, a most curious experiment is being conducted.
[cut to a female librarian (blonde hair in a bun, plaid blouse, beige skirt) checking out a book for a female patron at the front desk, as a male professor watches in the background]
VERNON JOYNER: [in voice over] When a book is checked out, the clerical procedure is boring, mechanical and quite unremarkable.
[she fills out the date due slip and places it in the book, then hands the library card back to the female patron (who takes it and the book and leaves)]
VERNON JOYNER: [in voice over] The library clerk in this case is instructed to conduct this operation identically with everybody. Her posture, gaze, vocabulary, voice tone and so on must be held constant.
[cut to another female patron at the front desk checking out a book]
VERNON JOYNER: [in voice over] The next encounter has just one difference. The clerk touches the other person when handing back the identity card, and the touch must be as fleeting and insignificant as possible.
[the librarian repeats the procedure as before, except that her hand ever-so-slightly brushes the patron's as she hands back the card]
LIBRARIAN: There you go.
PATRON: Thanks.
[the patron takes her card and the book and leaves, then the camera pans up to show the professor following her out of the shot]
VERNON JOYNER: [in voice over] Every reader is approached after the check-out and asked to fill in a questionnaire about the library in general.
[cut to the female patron sitting in a room across from another man, as she fills out a paper form]
VERNON JOYNER: [in voice over] A brief interview then follows.
INTERVIEWER: Have you finished?
INTERVIEWER: Okay, thank you.
[she slides the form across the desk to the man]
INTERVIEWER: We're particularly interested in how the clerk behaved. Did you notice whether the clerk smiled at you?
PATRON: [pause] Yeah, I think she did.
INTERVIEWER: Did you notice whether she touched you?
PATRON: [pause] I ... No, I don't think she touched me.
PATRON: I don't think she touched me.
VERNON JOYNER: [in voice over] Well, the librarian didn't smile, but she did touch.
[cut to more shots of patrons in the library]
VERNON JOYNER: [in voice over] The questionnaire was about the reader's feelings that day about the library, librarians and other readers. Typically, these are perceived as unremarkable, unless the person was touched. Then, perceptions become enthusiastic and quite vivid ... Professor Dick Heslin.
[cut to the male professor speaking directly to the camera]
DICK HESLIN: That kind of a touch has such potency as to actually change a person's mood, and even change their feeling towards something like a library, where it occurred.
[cut back to footage of the librarian and the female patron]
KEVIN FONG: [in voice over] The addition of one fleeting touch transformed this encounter.
LIBRARIAN: There you go.
PATRON: Thanks.



Blink: A Horizon Guide to the Senses
11 July 2012

Touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste - our senses link us to the outside world. Dr Kevin Fong looks back through 40 years of Horizon archives to find out what science has taught us about our tools of perception - why babies use touch more than any other sense, why our eyes are so easily tricked and how pioneering technology is edging closer to the dream of replacing our human senses if they fail.

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