Monday, December 11, 2006

Selective Perception

The environment we all live in generally has too many stimuli in it for anyone to process all of them. That simple. Fortunately, we don't have to process all of them to survive. If we miss a fly, we're probably OK. Miss a truck speeding down the highway. not good if we're standing in the highway, maybe.

You can see when we ask people to describe each other on the Internet that we got different descriptions of the same person when we had no idea what they looked like. No reason for them to be the same. Where did they come from? There's really no way to answer that question in general.

A really fascinating piece of research was done at Dartmouth in 1960 around the Presidential Debates. There were four, one was radio only, three were televised. Dartmouth took there Debating Society and only allowed them to hear the debates. Their job was to determine who won the debates. Then stratified samples were constructed, so that there were both Republicans and Democrats in each group, and one group watched the debates on TV, and the other listened to the debates on radio only.

After the debates were over, and the groups were all interviewed and the results tabulated, the researchers were astounded. The Debating Society had clearly scored Nixon the winner of the debates. So had the group who had only heard the debates on the radio. But the group who watched the last three debates on TV gave the debates to Kennedy. The election in November of 1960 also went to Kennedy.

Nixon had looked haggard, tired, he had been on the campaign trail. Kennedy looked like he had just come from a Bermuda vacation. He was young and tanned with a wonderful smile.

Subsequent research has shown that in a visual situation, tonality accounts for approximately 55% of what is 'heard', appearances account for about 30%, and the actual message itself, the so called content may rate as high as 15%.

I don't suppose that anyone here ever thought that someone wasn't listening when they were talking to them recently? Or that people just weren't getting what you were talking or writing about?

15 comments:

Claudia said...

No,never, of course not (yeah, like all the time!)

MJ said...

who me?? .. What were you saying again ...

cmhl said...

I can't log in for some reason--- you are so right about the perceptions of how they looked--- it changed the course of the election.

how is Holmes? photos?

Alison said...

My ex's grandmother voted for Jacques Chirac because she liked his dimples.

(So, yeah. Great point.)

Claudia said...

I like that everyone thought I was tall and thin!! :)

Odat said...

huh?

The CEO said...

Aren't you and Odat tall and thin with mellifluous voices like MJ's?

The CEO said...

For those of you who have a regular Blogger account, you may have problems signing in. Evidently Google is trying to get people to convert to Beta, and they think this method will work. subtle, eh.

Just D said...

I know what Odat looks like. I even have a video of her from the Newark airport.

MWA HAHAHAHAHAAAA

Ohhhh.. post idea, gotta go.

Lee said...

I don't know about that listening bit, but I always go for the hot guy too. ;)

The CEO said...

Now I know why Lee never answers my e mail.

Matt said...

I always watch political candidates when they reach to shake hands at televised debates. Inevitably, the taller man holds onto the other for an embrace to reinforce to the cameras that he's larger.

At the same time, the viewer might see the smaller man angling to escape and finally giving in and backslapping the larger man.

Other research has shown that, at least in the u.s. presidential elections, the man with the greater percentage of anglo-saxon heritage always wins. Looking at Bush and Blair, they seem like twins now.

The CEO said...

Well done Matt. You have pointed out one of the greatest political maneuvers of all time. Tony Blair was the closest friend, first of Bill Clinton, and now of George Bush.

History is going to explain this one, and I don't make the statement to poke fun at Mr. Blair. We went from a time of surplus to war. Events often dictate change.

Crankster said...

I stopped describing everyone when I realized that I had reduced many people to the same two or three "types." I realized that my perceptions of other had far more to do with my own prejudices (in the Burkian sense) than with their comments or personalities.

The CEO said...

Mr. Cranster, Sir, you are one smart dude.