Hello and welcome to the TCC Weekly – the Friday bulletin for people who know their millennial card from their avocard.
It’s been a busy week in the serious news, but we’ve gone off piste and ignored all that – read on for what you might not have heard about why polling is good after all in PPP, why it’s better to ask for advice than opinions in Behaviour Change, and the Values take on St. Patrick’s Day and having a good time.
We also have more on fake news and the fight against it and reveal what your accent tells others about your competence. As if all that wasn’t enough, we’ll finish off by bundling into Charlie’s Attic, the colloquial slang we suppress beneath our effected received pronunciation of a newsletter. This week’s Attic includes some gems, including 10 charts about life under Putin, the tube map of salaries, and Sandale-man, Senegal’s Black Panther.
Don’t call me stupid
Last week The Guardian spoke to eminent social psychologist and author of the behavioural science bestseller Influence, Robert Cialdini about the key to persuading people. The man who helped Obama win in 2012 says that those seeking to persuade others need to think carefully about using the right words in the right places. Asking colleagues for ‘advice’ on a new idea rather than their ‘opinion’, for example, is more likely to get them on side as it invites their collaboration rather than criticism.
On the flipside of this, trying to change someone’s mind is made infinitely more difficult if your approach is to call them stupid or blame them for decisions. While the hot topic version of this might be Democrats trying to persuade Trump voters or Remainers attempting the same with Leave voters, it’s just as important on a micro level. Whether it is within a workplace or a community, more can be gained through empathising and reassuring those whose behaviour you aim to shift – which is often, in our experience and others’, easier said than done.
As Robert suggests, never underestimate cognitive dissonance, which can mean the more consequential an error or negative behaviour, the more we condition ourselves not to believe it is an error or negative at all.
Following and predicting recent elections has sometimes felt like sticking a finger in the wind with a glove on – and pollsters have taken a lot of flack for their part in this.
The guilty factors have been variously identified as poor sampling, tumbling response rates and herding. But a new study from political scientists Will Jennings and Christopher Wlezien suggests that, shock horror, polls over the years have been consistently accurate (or shoddy, depending on your outlook). Although those aforementioned issues with polling are real, recent polls have tended to be no less accurate overall than over the last half century.
So why the clamour to slam the pollsters? Some, as cited in the article, suggest it might be that we remember recent errors more than in the past, but could it also be linked to the wider decline in trust in ‘experts’? Perhaps, and if so, pollsters need to join the queue of groups eager to rebuild public trust.
As a starter, the article suggests more transparency and clarity around the variables and uncertainty built into forecasts, such as SurveyMonkey’s multiple turnout-based predictions of last year’s Alabama special election. This opening of the curtain could be seen as an example of more open engagement with audiences, which, as we’ve argued, is key in building trust.
Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day, a day when all over Britain high spirits abound, pubs teem with a sea of green and, every now and again, declarations of love can be heard among the clink of glasses. You can see how much you really know about St Patrick’s Day with this quick bit of trivia, and find out a few things you may not know about leprechauns here.
In the spirit of having a good craic, we wanted to find out who among us are most partial to letting our hair down. We donned green lab coats and those novelty Guinness hats and burst into the Values Lab to get the answers.
This map shows flags up those who espouse the Values attribute ‘good time’, a group who see the experience of pleasure as a central part of life. As the purple and red blotches show, this is a real Prospector trait compared to the other Values groups. It’s a demonstration of why, to appeal to Prospectors, it’s often good to make calls to action quick and, if possible, fun.
Also this week:
This great clip from the BBC’s Nick Robinson demonstrates attitudes to immigration are more likely governed by deeply held, values-driven concerns than logical assessments (you can catch the full Panorama episode here)