Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Bell Curve vs. The Well Curve

Leadership consultant, Chad Hall, recently observed that society is moving away from the “bell curve” (pictured) and toward something called the “well curve”.

You know about the bell curve that defines normal distribution as being massed near the middle while being low on the extremities. As a graph the distribution looks like a bell-shaped curve. The implication is that most people gravitate toward the middle. Most people are of average height, make average grades (“C’s”) and have average sized families. Few people are really tall or short, make “A’s” or “F’s” and have very large or very small families.

Today a new phenomenon is being recognized. The distribution for some choices is an inverted bell curve or “well curve”. In these cases the population gravitates toward the extremes and is lowest in the middle. Hall sites examples such as television screens getting both larger (60” plasma) and tinier (iPod); stores are getting huge (Wal-Mart) and small (specialty boutiques); people are eating more healthful food (organic) and more fast food (McDonald’s).

If so, the well curve describes the disappearing middle-class, the demise of mid-sized companies and the polarization of politics in America.

I think this phenomenon is also seen in the increased numbers of “spiritual” people but decreased numbers of those actually “connected” to God.

1 comment:

jeff saussier said...

I do a lot of self-selecting surveys re satisfaction. I find that self-reporting respondents generally gravitate towards high satisfaction and high dissatisfaction, with the "silent majority" not bothering to complete the survey. It seems that this could explain a lot about polarization.