Friday, March 27, 2009

The Dr. Fox effect explains why meaningless speeches get high ratings

The Dr. Fox effect
from Wikipedia

...Professor of law Deborah Merritt summarized the Dr. Fox Effect as it was observed in the first experiments:

"The experimenters created a meaningless lecture on 'Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education,' and coached Fox to deliver it 'with an excessive use of double talk, neologisms, non sequiturs, and contradictory statements.'

At the same time, the researchers encouraged Fox to adopt a lively demeanor, convey warmth toward his audience, and intersperse his nonsensical comments with humor. ...

Fox fooled not just one, but three separate audiences of professionals and graduate students. Despite the emptiness of his lecture, fifty-five psychiatrists, psychologists, educators, graduate students, and other professionals produced evaluations of Dr. Fox that were overwhelmingly positive....

The disturbing feature of the Dr. Fox study, as the experimenters noted, is that Fox’s nonverbal behaviors so completely masked a meaningless, jargon-filled, and confused presentation."

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