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Nodding Is Believing

I am currently listening to the audio verion of the book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcom Gladwell. There is one experiment that the author describes, the results of which surprised me in particular.

In this experiment, there are two groups of student volunteers selected randomly. They are told that they are there to evaluate the quality of some headphones. Each volunteer is given a headphone and asked to listen what is played on the headphone. In one group, the members are asked to nod their heads up and down while they are listening. In the other group, the members are asked to shake their head sideways as they listen. They are told that they would answer a short survey about the listening experience with the headphone at the end of the experiment.

The experiment begins and the volunteers listen to a short presentation about the need to increase tuition fees. At the end of the experiement, the volunteers answer a survey with questions related to the quality of the headphone. At the very end of the questionaire, they findĀ  a couple of questions that ask them about their opinion about the presentation and if they agreed with the idea of increasing tuition fees.

And now on to the incredible results. A large percentage of students who belonged to the group who were instructed to nod their heads up and down while listening answered that they agreed with the idea of increasing tuition fees. Also, a significant percentage of students from the group instructed to shake their head sideways while listening disagreed with the idea of fee increase!!

Just the mere act of moving their heads one way or the other seemed to affect the students’ opinion on the topic!

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