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Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don't, And Why

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We live in a world where proven facts and verifiable data are freely and widely available. Why, then, are so many self-confident ignoramuses believed? Why are thoughtful experts so often dismissed? And why do seemingly irrelevant details such as a person’s height, relative wealth, or Facebook photo influence whether or not we trust what they are saying? In this talk I will discuss why people so often attend to characteristics of the messenger, rather than the content of the message, when deciding whom to listen to. In particular, I will show how the perceived status of a messenger, and the level of connectedness others feel towards them, influence how persuasive their messages will be.

Joseph Marks, MSc., is an experimental psychologist and co-author of the book Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, And Why (with Stephen Martin). He is currently a doctoral researcher at University College London, a visiting researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an Associate Consultant for INFLUENCE AT WORK (UK). His work has featured in The New York Times, Guardian, and the Harvard Business Review. Joseph holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Birmingham and a Master’s degree in Social Cognition from University College London. His research with INFLUENCE AT WORK has been applied across a variety of business and public policy settings, including financial regulation, healthcare, and public transport.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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