The Dr. Fox effect
In life, confidence goes a long way.
In 1970, the psychologists John E. Ware, Donald H. Naftulin and Frank A. Donnelly ran an experiment to demonstrate just how far.
They arranged a lecture on game theory for an audience of experienced psychiatrists and psychologists.
What the audience didn’t know was that the lecturer wasn’t an actual scientist. Instead, an actor called Michael Fox played the role of the fictitious “Dr. Myron L. Fox.”
The day before, Dr. Fox had been briefed to deliver a lecture “with an excessive use of double-talk, neologisms, non sequiturs, and contradicting statements.”
Basically, his talk was a sham.
At the start of his presentation, Dr. Fox was introduced to the audience as an 'authority on the application of mathematics to human behaviour'.
Despite the content being meaningless waffle, the engaging and confident manner he delivered it in meant that the attendees rated him as highly credible.
He was even able to successfully avoid answering any of the questions put to him after his 20 minute talk had finished.
This was particularly surprising to the actor playing the role as he feared the audience would recognise him from his appearances in films and popular TV shows including Batman and Inspector Columbo.
This fascinating study highlights the susceptibility for listeners to be convinced by poor quality content as long as it is delivered in a confident and authoritative manner.
It seems it really is possible to fake it till you make it.