“You are remembered for the rules you break.” -Douglas MacArthur


COMMENT: Today’s quote is not quite accurate (sorry General MacArthur). Studies show that things are actually more salient when they deviate from our expectations, not when they break the rules. Thus, breaking the rules could be more memorable if everyone expects you to follow them. However, if the norm in a situation is not to follow the rules then it would actually be more memorable to follow them. For instance, it is common practice to purchase a soft drink cup at a restaurant or cafeteria and refill it multiple times from the soda machine. But I will never forget an evening many years ago at Taco Bell when my father refused to do this. “Why not?” my younger brother and I asked, “everybody does it!”. “Because it isn’t right,” was his simple reply, “we only paid for one.” I remember this so vividly all these years later not because he broke the rules, but because he broke my expectations by following the rules. Dad, thank you for showing me how to do the right thing even when it is not the norm.

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