Identity vs. Labels: A social Experiment on UPV Community

By: Erika Xim Paola Santos, Donovan Aguilos, Marvin John Saijo, Annjie Gancita, April Magbanua

Describe yourself in one word. Beautiful? Not so beautiful. Intelligent? Not so gifted. Or let’s say, to what extent you know your being? Are you sure about your self- concept? Is the way you see yourself the same as what others perceive you? Identity versus labels. Self-concept versus self-image.

A social experiment was conducted last October 2 regarding how the UPV community define themselves- Intelligent or Average. In the corridor along the PA rooms in the University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas, Iloilo City Campus, two improvised portals were made. One portal was labelled “Intelligent” and the other was “Average.” The experiment enabled the students to fully observe which portal people from the campus passed which significantly tell how they evaluate themselves. After letting the members of UPV community chose their way, a series of short and simple questions were asked to fully assess their self-concept.

From the social experiment done by the class, all respondents interviewed chose AVERAGE. When asked why they made that choice, all of them also responded the same answer – which is, they simply define themselves as average in terms of level of intellect.

There have been a lot of varied factors as to what made the respondents made their choice. One respondent said that she believes that there is way a lot more people who can be more intelligent than her, citing various academic institutions like Ateneo and UP Diliman. Another one said that he chose average since he doesn’t want people to think that he is too confident about himself and that people would expect more from him as highly intellectual. The other responses mainly stem from self-esteem such as; that their mind is already fixed on that choice since they already knew it within themselves, they want to have room for improvement for themselves, and that they think intelligence shouldn’t be a basis for knowing one’s capabilities.

We then asked the respondents as to who influenced them in making their decision. The most number of answers we got from them is that it is really a personal choice for them – that they have already have it within themselves to think that they are average people. A few portion of the respondents answered that society influenced them, which include certain situations where they have been pressured by their peers to walk through the average choice during the social experiment.

Lastly, the respondents were asked whether they might change their mind as to how they actually think of themselves, disregarding the other influencers of their choices and the simulation feel of the social experiment. Most of them still answered that they are firm with their preliminary choice, which is, average. However, three of our respondents regarded themselves as above average as to how they really think of themselves.

In the interim, the experiment attempts to show how intelligence is not about people’s perception of you, but about your own state of mind and perception of the self. The real concept of this experiment is to send a heart-warming reminder for all to rethink that we are all intelligent in our ways and this is also an attempt to restore their confidence. It did create an impact for those students who continually question their capabilities, for the teachers who ask themselves if they are truly qualified to be called one and to others too. This social experiment, however, gave rise to the issues with regards to them having low self esteem and trust on themselves that they can do it. No matter, how much society dictates you or label you as Intelligent or Average, it will be always up to you. Choose not to be intelligent or average, choose to be you.

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