The Monkeys In The Cage

Posted on May 4, 2007 by | 0 Comments

So often in my dealings with estate agents discussions reach the point where the estate agent justifies a procedure or behaviour with:

“I’ve been in this (real estate industry) for a long time, and I know what you can and can’t do”

Such a comment always reminds be of the story of “The Monkeys In The Cage”. Here’s how it goes:

Five monkeys are put a steel mesh cage. The cage has shower roses mounted above it, and these are connected to a supply of iced water. A banana is suspended from the roof of the cage, and a ladder is placed beneath the banana, so that a monkey who climbs the ladder can reach the banana.

When a monkey climbs the ladder and touches the banana a trigger sets of the water system, and all of the monkeys in the cage are showered with iced water. After a period of time the monkeys learn to leave the banana alone.

One of the monkeys is then replaced. Of course, the new monkey knows nothing about the iced water, and it attempts to climb the ladder for the banana. This monkey is quickly seized by the other monkeys and there is a fight. Eventually the new monkey learns that it will be beaten up by the other monkeys if it attempts to climb the ladder.

Another of the original monkeys is replaced, and the process is repeated.

Eventually all of the original monkeys have been replaced, and none of the monkeys now in the cage have had the experience of the iced water. The iced water system is removed. However, none of the monkeys will climb the ladder. Why?

If you could ask any of the monkeys you would be given the same answer as estate agents so often give,

“I don’t know, but I’ve been in this (cage) for a long time, and I know what you can and can’t do!”

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