Trick AND Treat: A Social Experiment
October 31, 2008, 3:28 pm
Filed under: campus ministry, social action, the purple door

1031081115 We at The Purple Door seem to have developed a bit of a Halloween tradition.  For the third straight year, we went out to the UW campus to do our Trick AND Treat social experiment.  It’s a super simple, but fun approach to helping people think outside of themselves, and pay quality attention to others.  In years past here’s what we’ve done.  We set up a table on campus, with a big banner that says “FREE CANDY” on it.  We’re supplied with several cases of full-sized candy bars.  Most students are highly skeptical of course – wouldn’t you be?  We have to convince people that the candy really is free, but once we do, the fun begins.  We tell them, “O.k. there actually is a catch, but it’s a fun one.  We’re not going to give you one candy bar, we’re going to give you two.  One is for you to enjoy for yourself, but we’d like you to take the second candy bar, and give it away to someone you don’t know.  Pay attention to how you feel, how it makes the other person feel, and just pay attention to those around you.”  The previous couple of years have been really great – it’s priceless to watch the students’ facial transitions as we explain things to them – first skepticism, then confusion, then amusement, then laughter and excitement.

For this year’s version, we decided to put a political twist on it, since we’re just a few days away from the big presidential election, and people can’t stop thinking and talking about it anyway.  Instead of asking students to give the candy to someone they don’t know, we asked them to take one candy bar for themselves, and give the second one away to someone who is supporting a presidential candidate other than the one they’re supporting.  We didn’t ask who people planned to vote for, and definitely didn’t advocate for any candidates.  When students asked why we were doing this, we’d simply tell them that we think it’s important to value conversations with people, even when we might disagree with them.  Maybe we don’t see eye to eye, but can we at least decide that we’re going to disagree well?

Obviously, this is a silly little thing, but we think it’s important to do things like this, just to get people communicating with each other, and thinking differently.  If nothing else, we’ve had some fun with people, and been able to encourage them.  All in all, we gave away right around 260 candy bars today.  Perhaps some day we’ll come up with something that won’t get the dentists and dieticians of the world miffed at us!


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

That’s a really cool twist to the Trick and Treat. I’m glad it went really well out there 🙂

Comment by Michael

wow! That’s a really good idea.

Comment by coldfire

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