Friday, July 10, 2009

Crystal blue persuasion

"I revolve around sciences."

In my spare time I'm a science nerd. Shut up, you love it.

Scientific American:

Are certain genders or body types better at the art of persuasion?

In the art of persuasion, does a person’s sex or body type make a difference?

As someone with lady parts and a mean WHR, the answer to this question seemed obvious to me. HOWEVER:

I hope you're sitting down, because for the first time EVER, I was incorrect about something. Hold me close and keep me warm until I can get through this difficult period--it turns out that hips only go so far when you're trying to get your point across. While I grapple with this devastating news, you can read all about it below: how dudes believe dudes, ladies believe ladies, game recognize game, real recognize real...oh wait, I got sidetracked.

"People are more swayed by the opinions and behavior of those who are like them. Specifically, those who are akin in appearance, hobbies or behavior are relatively more persuasive to one another. For instance, a study published in 2005...examined the effect of name resemblance on persuasion. Half the participants received a request to participate in a survey from someone who had the same first name as theirs and a close-sounding last name, whereas half received the same request without the name similarity. Letters matched for name similarity recruited nearly twice the number of participants.

All else being equal, a skinny man would usually believe another skinny man over a heavier man. Things are seldom equal, however; in our society, skinny people are considered to be more attractive, and attractive people are more persuasive. The impact of a person’s sex is more complicated. Overall, men are slightly more swaying than women because we tend to perceive men to have higher credibility and expertise*. Yet that is not the situation when the topic is stereotypically feminine (child care, for example).

Finally, across all communication modes, people are usually more successful at winning over members of their own sex. I have found that both men and women are more likely to adopt (an opinion)...when the persuader—either a real person or computer-controlled virtual person—matches their gender."

* 80% of dudes I meet: "Wow, your last boyfriend did a great job of teaching you about sports and/or hip-hop!"

(Other 20%, thank you, I love you, and you're the greatest. Aww.)

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