Columbia U "Social Experiment" pays students to talk to campus strangers

November 19, 2010

Last week, New York-based Columbia University launched a game called "The Social Experiment" to encourage students who don't know one another to talk to each other, with the incentive of possibly winning $500. To play the game, students must find others who hold passwords, which can only be revealed if the "prompt" word is said during conversation. The 10 students who collect the most passwords would win $500 each. The aim of the game is to get more students to mingle with each other in the process of foraging for passwords. While Columbia U has declined to comment on the motives behind the contest, the media has speculated the experiment is meant to counteract the mobile media culture saturating college campuses, where students are more likely to be buried in their handheld devices than poised to greet passers-by. Inside Higher Ed | Maclean's OnCampus