Confidence Often Trumps Honesty
If you’re going to lie, might as well do it with style.
At least that’s what I study by Todd Rogers and Michael Norton shows. They have shown that often people will trust a speaker who ruefully dodges a question more than one who stumbles through an honest answer.
This is not news for politicians and other professionals who base their power on rhetoric. People love artful turns of phrase, even when those turns of phrase don’t actually amount to conveying information.
The takeaway here (marketers pay attention) is that if you are going to gild the lily make sure that you bring a lot of gold spray paint. People will forgive you almost anything except boring them to death.
The finding: People who dodge questions artfully are liked and trusted more than people who respond to questions truthfully but with less polish.
The study: Todd Rogers and Michael Norton showed subjects different videos of a political debate. In the first, one of the candidates answered the question asked. In the second, he dodged it by answering a similar question. In the third, he dodged it by answering a completely different one. When the candidate answered a similar question, subjects failed to notice the switch. They also liked him better if he answered a similar question well than if he answered the actual one less eloquently.