I just recently binge watched Season 5 of History Channel’s Alone on Hulu and the show caused me to ponder about survival and how and why some of the best prepared and competent contestants are not the winners. If we take away the contestants that tap out due to serious mechanical injury or illness, then the real reasons seem to be the combination of starvation and psychology. Starvation and psychology almost feed off of each other in a downward spiral. It would be an interesting experiment to run a season that tests one variable: the psychology of being alone. Since having nourishment is an important part of overall health, I wonder what shape the show would take if rations were provided.
It would be fascinating to purely test the psychology of living alone without the added stress of foraging and hunting for food. The contestants would still battle cold, isolation, shelter building, and safety and security. By providing food rations, we also take away the element of luck. A part of the show deals with the luck of the draw. Contestants that have faired better have been dropped off in areas rich with fish and small game. In Season 5, Britt Ahert was off to a bang start having caught fish plentifully and established a comfortable shelter quickly. Given his incredible luck, I expected him to go the distance, if not win, and he did go the distance.
For a future season, I would like to see the show’s producers provide weekly rations on the down low and see how food effects or does not effect the contestants’ state of mind. As a part of the element, let’s have the contestants write anonymous notes to each other reinforcing the desire to win and outlast. Let’s see what part, if any, a little PsyOps (Psychological Operations) plays. Maybe we could have other support staff sneak around and make growling noises or mimic predators. Couple this with a harsh and unforgiving environment, and the results could be rather unpredictable. And it would be ultimately medically safer for the contestants because the danger of starvation is eliminated.
The shows producers could also formulate the show based on an indefinite end. Even when it is down to the final contestant standing, not to go back in and extract the last contestant right away. The psychological study would be really fascinating. Since it is an experiment in psychology, the contestants would have to be fully informed in order for it to be ethical and legal.