National Cowardliness Rankings @ London Dungeon


Interesting day today at London Dungeon. Thrill laboratory was engaged to explore the differing reactions of several nationalities to fear stimuli. Largely an attempt to engage with the forthcoming Olympic excitement in London, it proved to be a lovely reinforcement of expected national stereotypes. Who would have guessed that the French would be the most vividly terrified? Or that the Italians would be the most vocally dramatic! Similarly, could anyone have guessed that the Germans would be teutonically unmoved by the terrifying experience?

Of course it was all done on a very “lite” (and frankly rather woolly) basis and certainly couldn’t be considered scientifically sound or statistically significant, with just a single representative from each country. That said it was a very agreeable evening. BVP, EDA and EMG was the order of the day today, and the subjects were exposed to four stimuli: A Gladstone bag full of surgical equipment, boody rags and photographs of Jack the Ripper’s victims to induce unease; a “boo fright” in the darkness for fright; some rats under a closh for the phobia type unease; and a bucket full of rotting meat and maggots for disgust. Certainly unpleasant and a lot more dramatic than the stimuli we were able to make use of in the torture your parents experience at Mayfest earlier in the month.

Here if you’re interested is the league table of national cowardliness:

  1. France
  2. Italy
  3. Brazil
  4. England
  5. Scotland
  6. Sweden
  7. India
  8. Hungary
  9. USA
  10. Germany
Do bear in mind of course that we only tested these ten nations. As to where others might fall – who can say. Why not head down to the dungeon and see?

The experience was actually run for journalists as a PR piece for London dungeon. Here are links to a couple of the articles written about the event:

And here is the official press video, featuring our own Brendan Walker:

In technical terms, it served to show us that we really need to be able to make multiple screen instances of the Vicarious renderer – something that has now been remedied, saving me the need to take two large computers to run similar “2-up” type experiments in the future. Otherwise though all seemed to go roughly according to plan. The screen looked pretty good and the participants reactions were much as we might have expected. Except for the rats. Everybody loved the rats. They were very cute though so perhaps that was inevitable…

Photo Credit: Mikael Buck


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