Over the last couple of days I’ve uncovered how the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is conducting trials that force unemployed people to take a meaningless online ‘test’ (which gives you a personality profile even if you click right through it without answering any questions). The test is accompanied by a letter that tells the respondent that he or she must implement the 5 ‘identified’ ‘strengths’, which bear no relation to their personality, in a different way every day ‘for at least one week’.
Treating people as guinea-pigs by deceiving them to make them ‘jump through hoops’ is bad enough. But benefit claimants are forced to take this ‘test’ under the threat of losing their benefits if they fail to do so.
Until last night, a visit to the root directory of the site revealed a number of files but no other personality tests. Even though the site is named to appear to be a specialist behavioural science site, it is a sham set up by a ‘Behavioural Insight Team’ advising the government on ‘1984’-like ways to control people’s behaviour.
Until last night, entering the URL ‘behaviourlibrary.com’ would have shown you the following:
However, if you visit it now, this is what you’ll see:
Clearly there’s something here that the DWP and its advisors would prefer you not to see. But what is it?
Most of the files on the root directory would be available in other locations, but one in particular isn’t – a PowerPoint file that outlines the methodology of the test. This file – a presentation on ways to influence behaviour, especially of benefit claimants, contains a number of images, including one of a bailiff removing a television from someone’s house.
In the context of the threat of ‘sanction’ – the removal of benefits that people rely on to make ends meet – these images take on a particularly sinister aspect. Even if there could be an innocent explanation for the images, the manner in which the government is using coercion to make them undergo a meaningless ‘test’ for the purposes of psychological manipulation is extremely worrying. The fact that access to the site has now been blocked (presumably because someone realised it was known to the public) suggests that the government does not want the contents of this file to be known, whatever the precise reason.
Fortunately, that’s not the end of the matter. I stored a copy of this PowerPoint file on Dropbox, so you can read it and decide for yourself. If you would like to see the file, please visit the links below – and spread the word so that others can see exactly what the government is trying to hide.