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Negatively Oriented Therapy vs. Fun Theory

Negatively Oriented Therapy Vs. Fun Theory “Misery loves company and our company loves misery.”
–I.M. Kidding, NOT founder

Nothing should ever change.  We have been doing things inefficiently and ineffectively for eons.  Why stop now?  Fun theory is the latest effort of a business endeavoring to make changes in the world that are uniquely fun, proactive, and effective.  Each of their innovations has produced a positive change in the environment, or in people’s behavior for the better.

Their motto?

“Fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better.”

Our competing motto is:

“It is easier to do nothing and give up.”

The people at TheFunTheory are having a contest. It would be overwhelming for me to discuss all of their entries, but let me review the top four.  This has had the side benefit of making me upset because these three things are so effective.  You can learn more about NOT here.

Proof Positive

First lets look at the some of the things they are trying to fix:  Obesity for one. Worldwide, non-communicable chronic diseases are the leading causes of death. Dr. Gouden Galae, coordinator of health promotions for the World Health Organization, notes that heart disease, diabetes, cancer and lung disease are responsible for 60 percent of deaths worldwide and 80 percent among the world’s poorest people. Right now one in three adults are overweight and 1 in 10 classified as obese. By 2015, WHO estimates the number will be 2.3 billion — equal to the combined populations of China, Europe and the U.S. It is estimated by 2020 that obesity will be the No. 1 cause of death worldwide.

The frickin’ fun theorists?  How are they approaching this problem?  They want more people to exercise naturally.  Take the stairs, not the escalator.  But unless you close down the escalator we here at NOT thought that nothing could be done to motivate people.  Sure, if the escalator is broken people will use them, but they certainly won’t be happy about it. But the fun theorists have created the piano stairs.  Watch the video — 66 percent more usage with piano keys for stairs, and worse, people are happy doing it.


Then we have litter.  Since the Environmental Protection Act we’ve known litter is not a good thing as it promotes disease, lowers property prices, and kills wild life.  It is estimated that it costs 10 times as much to clean up litter as it does to pay for trash disposal.  So what do the fun theorists do?  They create the world’s deepest trash container.  People love to hear the sound as they drop something to the center of the earth.  The results? 41k more trash than the next bin.

Then there is the bottle bank arcade machine.  They proved they could help people clean up, but could they even make it fun to recycle? You win points for putting bottles and containers in for recycling.  During the experiment it was used nearly 100 times, while a nearby container was used twice.  Want to know more about recycling?   This site will even tell you many containers have been recycled in the United States already this year.

Finally, the worst for NOT because it was the best the fun theorists.  In fact it won the fun theorist’s award.    The speed camera lottery.  They actually built this thing that uses a camera to catch people going the speed limit.  Those over the speed limit get caught and pay a fine, and the money goes to the lottery winner who wasn’t speeding.  The result?  The average speed before the experiment was 32 km/h.  During the experiment: 25km/h.

TheFunTheory is brought to us by the good people at Volkswagon.  With this theory and contest they are espousing what Jeremy Rifkin has proposed in his groundbreaking book, Empathic Civilization . More about his ideas can be seen here.  But essentially he asserts that compassion, empathy, and humanitarianism are our primary drives, and that we must heed them or devolve to manifesting secondary drives such as narcissism, materialism, and aggression. With Fun Theory yet another major business is promoting the well-being of humanity. Here are a few others. Check out their site and the other good ideas people are sending in. They are not letting us devolve, which doesn’t make us here at NOT happy.

At least there is some consolation in that.

Negatively Oriented Therapy vs. Fun Theory

Daniel Tomasulo, Ph.D.

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

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APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Negatively Oriented Therapy vs. Fun Theory. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 24 May 2019 (Originally: 18 Feb 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 24 May 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.