TEDxSalford – Stuart Nolan – Gullibility or Vulnerability?

TEDxSalford – Stuart Nolan – Gullibility or Vulnerability?

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Translator: ana lozano
Reviewer: Capa Girl (Weird sound) I really hate Malcom Gladwell. I read that book, “Blink,” and he says in that book “Blink”
that people will judge you, and decide whether they like you
or don’t like you in less than a second
when they see you. And that is a terrifying thought to put in the head
for somebody who has to go on stage. So, what I did was:
I recorded my whole talk, and compressed it,
using Sang technology, thanks — To last less than a second, and then
I learned how to say it, and I just did it. (Laughter) (Applause) I’ll do it again.
(Same weird sound) Actually, it’s better the second time,
because you pick up on some of the subtleties
you missed the first time, I actually sneaked in a couple
of little subliminal messages for individuals in the audience,
they will kick in a little bit later, perhaps — (Laughter) So, instant reactions is one way
that we judge people but psychologists try different ways,
past more complex ways of trying to understand our personalities,
and our characters, and that is what I want to
talk about today. One of the ways
that psychologists do that is by looking at the drawings
that we make. This could be quite tricky,
to do a meaning for a drawing, after we’ve got a slide of everything
that has ever happened ever, earlier on and then followed up with a slide
of rotating charmant happiness and I’m meant to be the magician — So, if I do a simple drawing — It’s tricky to really work out much
about my personality from that drawing, If a add a word,
then we get a little bit more meaning, a little bit more
of a stronger metaphor. A few more details,
and you start to, maybe see that I’m not necessarily
the sportiest of people. And, so, the more meaning
we add to a drawing, the more psychologists can perhaps,
make guesses, make understandings about
the kind of person that we are, turn that into a kind of reality. (Laughter) (Applause) Lovely acoustics in this room, isn’t it? (Laughter) So, I’m an applied magician,
what on earth does that mean? For a number of years,
around ten years, I’ve been seeking ways of applying magic
to other things, to other areas, mainly design, looking at
how magicians think. Magicians think in quite an interesting way
about designing the impossible. When magicians have a meeting
and they talk about impossible things, you know, somebody says something,
“What if I could do this?” A magician will say,
“That’s impossible, brilliant!” Because this is actually really
how to come up with new impossible things. We’ve vanished everything,
we’ve chopped everything in half, a new impossibility is actually
quite a wonderful thing. Another field I’ve been working in
is sport, and deception. Magicians have thousands
of years of practice in controlling the attention
of other people, and in sport that is something
that is quite powerful. What I want to talk to you today about,
actually, is one specific example, I think I’ll need the clicker, yes. So, I want to talk to you
about one specific example and finding an interesting thing, and then turning that into a piece of research
into organizational psychology. So, this is “Alexander, the man who knows.”
Alexander was the most popular, most successful magician of his time. He started performing
around 1914, 1915, he earned more money
than the Beatles in adjusted dollars. He performed all across America
and all across Europe. He was married somewhere between 4
and 11 times, we’re not entirely sure. He admitted to having murdered four men, though it is suspected
that he really murdered up to seven in his younger life,
which was a quite dangerous life. But the way Alexander differed
to other magic shows in the time was that he framed all of his magic
around psychology, the strange new art of psychology and the put down his power, his ability
to understand people’s personalities than to psychology. So, in some ways, he wasn’t just a forerunner
of modern mind readers and modern magicians. If he was around today, he’d probably
would be working in psychometrics and appearing on daytime television. Not as a magician,
but as a psychology expert. Now, I was looking at how I might update
some of Alexander’s performances, and I came across
this interesting quote. What Alexander had through
lots of different techniques, was the ability to make it appear
that he understood your personality. And he actually said,
organizations have personalities too, so, he kind of did personality readings, not just on people,
but on organizations. This made me think about
a famous experiment, the Forer experiment. Some of you may have heard of this. Forer was a psychologist, and in 1948 he asked his students
to fill out personality questionnaires. They filled out the questionnaires,
handed them in and he gave them
personality readings, and he asked them to measure
how accurate those readings were, and he got an average score
of around 85% accuracy. What he didn’t tell them
was that they all were given exactly the same personality reading, and those readings were composed
of 12 statements that he had taken from horoscopes
from daily newspapers. Now, I’ve always thought
that this was a brilliant trick and I’m interested in how sometimes
research in different fields actually takes the form of a trick. And I wanted to update
Forer’s research with that question from Alexander in mind:
“organizations have personalities.” So, can we trick organizations
into thinking that we understand
their personalities? So, what I did was I contacted
3 different universities, in America and Europe, who had links with
a lot of different organizations, and we constructed a questionnaire. We sent this questionnaire to over
a thousand organizations, small ones, big ones,
commercial organizations, NGOs, and we asked them to take part
in an experiment, to measure the personality
of their company, the personality of their organization. And we did that by rewriting
Forer’s original statements. I’m not going to go through
all 12 of them, I’m just going to show you
a few of these statements and how we went
about rewriting them, just so you can see that sometimes
that was quite a fiddly job. So, one of Forer’s
most famous statements is: “You have a great need for people
to like and admire you.” That’s my dad, by the way, he came second
in this hot pants competition, the guy over there,
with the mustache, came first, my dad was gutted,
never got over — So, that’s a statement that works
for individuals, for people. How do you rewrite that
to work for organizations? What we used was: “Your company has a great need
to develop positive brand awareness.” Some of the statements didn’t really
need rewriting: “You have a great deal
of untapped potential which you have not turned
to your advantage.” That actually works just as well for individuals
as it does for organizations, everybody thinks that’s true
about themselves and crucially, they don’t think that other people
think that of themselves. All organizations think this is true, and they don’t think that other organizations
think that’s true. Sometimes sentences
go hand in hand with each other — (Laughter) “Some of the organization’s aspirations
are unrealistic.” So, you see how that goes hand in hand
with untapped potential, but an unrealistic aspiration. Thanks to costumefail.com for giving me the use of that image,
by the way. This sentence,
I show you because it was judged the most accurate
by all of the organizations. “The company appears to be disciplined
and well-organized from the outside, but the internal workings are often
worrisome and messy.” This is sometimes called
“the duck metaphor.” You know, the duck seems
very very calm on the top, but is paddling like hell underneath. If I ever come across an organization,
or a company that doesn’t think
this is true about themselves, then I think there is something wrong
with the company, actually. But strangely, nobody thinks that it’s true
about other people. This was the hardest one to rewrite: “Your sexual adjustment has caused
some problems for you.” Having to rewrite that for organizations
rather than individuals, what I came up with was: “Forming business partnerships
has presented some problems.” (Laughter) So, were we successful, did we manage
to con those organizations were they as gullible as individuals
when we sent them these individual readings? Yes, of course they were. And, we had feedback from
673 of the organizations, actually they gave us a measurement
of how accurate they thought it was, and we came out around the same as Forer,
around 84 % accurate. Lots of interesting information
inside of that, which of the statements they thought
were more accurate, et cetera, but just for the day. What I want to end with is actually
a statement about what this means, because I think it’s kind of sad that Forer’s
original paper was about gullibility. And he focused on the trick,
the fact that people kind of fell for it. I think, as a magician, I think that’s
a bit sad to focus on the trick Magicians try not to focus on the trick, but to focus on the meaning
behind the trick. What do these statements actually mean? Why is it that so many people,
and so many organizations think that these statements
are very true about themselves and yet fail to understand
that everybody else feels that way. So, I think this is actually an experiment, not in gullibility
but in vulnerability. The thing that all this statements
have in common is that they express a kind
of secret vulnerability, that we all feel and yet somehow think
other people don’t feel. And it’s my hope
that we understand that better. I think it ties in with that idea
of an empathic civilization, to understand that everybody
feels vulnerable, organizations feel vulnerable, and then we will all be a lot
nicer to each other. Thank you. (Applause)

4 thoughts on “TEDxSalford – Stuart Nolan – Gullibility or Vulnerability?”

  1. Stand up Poet !  nothing more nefarious.. except perhaps the unspeakable
    RECLINING POET !   ( hey baby.. wanna be my muse ?)   WTF  WHO WRITES THESE STUPID BLURBS !

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