Mind Games and the Media
By Margaret Curtis, PhD
A Tip Sheet in the December 2012 issue of Psychology Today throws readers on alert. “I Can’t Believe My Eyes: WHAT MAKES US BUY A LIE?” lays out three tools for verification which can backfire.
Psychology Today: Tip 1: Placing photographs beside written material enhances credibility, researchers report.
Dr. Meg: Question 1: Is this why the public distrusts the press now? The more pictures accumulate in the digital media, the more likely readers may develop immunity to the common belief that a picture is worth a thousand words. Overdose just may constitute the cure.
Psychology Today: Tip 2: Multiple statements by the same eyewitness may also reduce disbelief, according to a study in Acta Psychologica.
Dr. Meg: Question 2: Is this why both the press and politicians bore us to death with talking points? Once we’re on to them, maybe it’s time to schedule unrehearsed appearances, and let the cameras roll while they stammer in the face of confusion, which doesn’t all belong to them.
Psychology Today: Tip 3: Partial understanding of a statement leads to the assumption that understanding is complete, according to “You Can’t Not Believe Everything You Read,” a study prepared by psychologist Daniel Gilbert and co-authors, who warn against rushing and fatigue.
Dr. Meg: Question 3: If speakers who repeat themselves practice an advantage over listeners, why not do them one or two better, and read written transcripts of their speeches multiple times, once for content, twice for strategy, and thrice for implications?
Dr. Meg: Conclusion: Does this Tip Sheet sound like an election guide OR WHAT? Well, we’ve got time to practice up, and then see who’s learned more since the last bafflement—and who’s gotten trickier in the times between one merry-go-round and the next.