At the beginning of the experiment, Beverly disliked Gloria because she thought Gloria was "unattractive" and "aggressive." The objective of the test was to discover if Beverly could come to like Gloria simply by being friendly toward her. Directed by the Harvard Research Center in Creative Altruism, the experiment was successful. After 18 weeks of intensive and uncalled-for good deeds, Beverly's new attitude towards Gloria upheld one of the research Center's major assumptions, namely that applied love can be a tremendous power.
Love, in fact, altruistically speaking, may some day be the only possible prescription to save a suicidal world, according to Research Center Director Pitirim A. Sorokin. With this idea as a starting point, Sorokin has developed his novel Center by applying the customary scientific and analytic approach to Love. His goal, of course, is still as vague as the word Love itself. The Center annually spends $15,000 of its extended endowment, but has no far been only able to demonstrate what it initially assumed.
Lilly Gives Endowment
It began in 1949 on the suggestion and $20,000 unsolicited donation of Eli Lilly of the Lilly Drug C. who had admired ideas in some of Sorokin's earlier books. At first scheduled to cover a five year project the Center's endowment has been constantly renewed by Lilly ever since President Conant converted the Center into an official adjunct of the university. After its organization Sorokin retired from his University duties and began to devote all his time to its program.
Materially, the center itself consists of one small office in back of Emerson Hall, one fulltime secretary, and its director, Sorokin. Its endowment funds are spent mostly for sociology experts who have helped collect material ranging from the biographies of 4,600 Christian saints to data on the ancient techniques of Yoga and Sufism (a system of a Mohammedan mysticism). In addition experiments have been made with subjects ranging from Harvard and Radcliffe students to patients and nurses at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital.
The Center's labors have been as prolific as they are aimless. Already seven lengthy volumes have been published, five written entirely by Professor Sorokin. Included in these works is a 500-page study entitled "The Ways and Power of Love", and a shorter analysis of "American 'Good Neighbors' and Christian Saints".
Perhaps the most appealing of the Center's discoveries has been that creative altruism, as formulated in the Sermon on the Mount. "Blessed are meek ...") does work in actual practical cases.
Enemies, including Beverly and Gloria, have grown to like each other through experimental creative altruism. In five recorded cases, this method sometimes included no more than constant friendliness and understanding. During one case, in fact, a friendship grew despite "atrocious remarks" by one subject concerning the other's clothing and personality.
In another experiment with two Radcliffe girls, Janet, the experimenter's informant, was asked to become friends with Dora even though Dora, as Janet described her, had a "horrible voice", asked "stupid questions", and "did things you wouldn't mind seeing her do in front of a boy, but that you hate to see in front of a girl."
Janet began the experiment by engaging in conversation with her "victim" and after a week concluded that Dora needed only a little "understanding". She had discovered, among other things, that in high school Dora had had a nervous breakdown because of family problems.
After invitations to square dances at Memorial Hall, Language Club meetings, and some instruction on crocheting, Janet found that she could tolerate Dora's voice, and that she did not consider her really "affected", She had, she told the experimenter, grown to like Dora, but she couldn't tell whether Dora actually liked her.
Experimental techniques of creative altruism were also tried with great success at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital. The subjects were nurses vs. patients and, of course, the nurses were always the informants. A typical report came from Nurse L. W.
Only Likes Fast Music
"He (Patient F.R.) blew up at me at the dance. He likes the fast music and he got mad when I played a slow number in the juke box. He walked away from me. The next day I chose to take care of him in an ether treatment because I made up my mind that somehow I'd get him to like me again. He does now, but it was because of my persistence in the matter."
Love, according to Sorokin's working definition of the word, is not as simple as the phrase "I love you" might indicate. Certainly not merely a fleeting emotion, true love, in fact, is five dimensional. The perfect love must include a definite percentage of intensity, extensity, duration, purity, and adequacy.