This is Scientific American 60-Second Mind, I'm Christie Nicholson. Got a minute?
"Mr.Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
Sounds pretty powerful. Right?
You might believe it will actually happen.
But what if this guy were to say the same thing:
"Mr.Gorbachev, tear down that wall!"
Hmmm. Maybe not so much.
Because a study finds that the social status of a speaker makes a significant difference in how we interpret statements they make.
Scientists showed participants clips of political statements, that were either true or false, made by a top politician, a news anchor or just your average joe.
The participants also watched another set of videos, this time of the same people making true or false statements about general world information like, "Fidel Castro is a pop singer."
The subjects were more likely to accept the false new statement coming from the political figure as opposed to the other speakers (including the news anchor!)
However, participants did not accept any false world knowledge statements from any of the speakers.
Brain recordings of the subjects reveal that their impressions of the speaker and what he or she says, happens very fast, within 150 to 450 milliseconds,
which is within the average reflex reaction time for humans.
The study is in the journal PLoS One.
Of course, given enough time, even a politician's biggest supporter will accept that something he said isn't true:
"I want you to listen to me, I'm going to say this again.
I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms.Lewinsky."
Thanks for the minute, for Scientific American 60-Second Mind. I'm Christie Nicholson.