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How Quality Audio Makes You Sound Smarter with Norbert Schwarz

October 11, 2021
Episode 34
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

As authorities and experts in our specialist areas, we want our prospective clients to see us as competent, intelligent experts. But many of us are self-sabotaging and creating the perception of being less competent, less intelligent, having less expertise.

In this episode, Norbert Schwarz and Alastair McDermott discuss how audio and video quality exerts a disportionate influence on the perception of the speaker and data being presented.

Show Notes

Learn more about Norbert here:

Books mentioned:

Other guides mentioned:

  • Alastair’s That Sounds Good, a guide on How to Look Good on Zoom & Sound Better on Podcasts


Guest Bio

Norbert Schwarz is Provost Professor of Psychology and Marketing and co-director of the Mind & Society Center at the University of Southern California. He investigates the context-sensitivity of human judgment and its implications for public opinion, consumer behavior, and social science research.


set, people, font, audio, important, easy, smell, studies, message, witness, sounds, read, bit, podcast, norbert, talking, difficulty, audio quality, moses, listening

Alastair McDermott, Norbert Schwarz


Norbert Schwarz  00:00

But if I can make you stumble, because I give you poor audio, or a poor print font, or I printed in light blue on white, which is harder to read and dark blue on white, I get the same effect because you’re very sensitive to that experience of having difficulty and not sensitive to reset experience comes from. So completely unrelated things that are not diagnostics that anything is wrong, can make you feel something is wrong, simply by slowing you down and making it more complicated.


Voiceover  00:33

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialised consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.


Alastair McDermott  00:48

Hey folks, we have an amazing episode for you today with Norbert Schwarz of the University of Southern California. I just want to give you a heads up that Norbert has quite a strong accent. And you will learn the reason why I’m giving you this heads up as you listen to the episode. This is one of my favourite interviews so far, I think this topic is fascinating. And I hope that you enjoy it too.  Today my guest is Norbert Schwarz. Norbert is a provost Professor of Psychology and Marketing, and director of The Mind and Society Centre at the University of Southern California. He investigates the context sensitivity of human judgement, and its implications for public opinion, consumer behaviour and social science research. So, Norbert, I found you first through this study about audio quality. And I’m really interested in this because as a podcaster, this fascinates me. So can you tell us a little bit about that?


Norbert Schwarz  01:41

Yeah, yes, I think it is important for podcasts. So we did a series of studies by now it’s a relatively large series, in which we use the same message and change the audio quality offset message. So for example, we used interviews from NPR radio show Science Friday, we use the snippet of circular interview, and we changed the audio quality so that it sounded like a good studio line, clear, very nice. Or it sounded like scientists who was being interviewed had called in for my cell phone. And so it was a bit of static in July, and you could easily understand everything. Memory for the message is the same in both cases. So it’s not that somehow some message gets lost.  But it takes a little more effort to listen to it because there’s some static, and what we found was very straightforward. If your audio sounds better, you seem to be a smarter guy, you seem to be a more likeable guy. You seem to be a better scientist. And even your research seems more important.  We did a similar study is a video clip, we took videos from actual science conferences, and we again change the audio of the video. So that it would sound like you have a microphone right on you like a lapel microphone is a good sound, or some microphone is sitting on set video camera set somehow in the middle of the room, which is often the case when you give talks in a department or at many conferences. There’s a video camera somewhere I said also record sound. And again, we did the same thing, How good was a talk, how good is a scientist? How important is the research and on all of these measures. So scientist is better, scientist is smarter. So research is more interesting. So research is more important when’s the video quality is better.  That was worth this Erin Newman, who was a postdoc in my lab at the time, she’s now at the Australian National University. And Erin and her Australian colleagues have now done a series of follow up studies in a court setting in response to the COVID pandemic. Many courts have changed from in person proceedings to online proceedings on zoom, or at least on audio, many witnesses, even outside of pandemic, many witnesses give testimony in a recording, and the recording is played in the courtroom. And so what we did inside series of studies is that we had two witnesses, and depending on condition the audio of one or the other witness was a little bit degraded.  So again, it sounded like the guy’s talking on a not so good phone line, or was a guy’s talking on a very good connection. And so results were very much the same and even more upsetting. So and in science communication context, because now you’re having witness testimony, and your witness seems more competent, and more credible. When the audio offset witness testimony is good. So and when said audio has a bit of static and sounds like a bad phone connection when you pitch the two witnesses against one another. So sets defence witness has good quality, audio quality, and prosecution’s witness has bad audio quality, or vice versa. So witness is a better audio quality gets evaded more when people arrive at decisions. So in many ways, this as a witness for how much the witness helps or hurts you depends on the audio quality of service recording and source were no studies that are directly relevant, obviously to podcasts, and says many other very preset can do similar that can do similar tricks said basically influence how credible we find the message, how can we find the speaker and so on?


Alastair McDermott  05:38

That this is fascinating stuff. I mean, the first thing that I would do is if I if I know anybody who’s going to court is to upgrade their audio equipment, because that’s that’s clearly so important. Amazing that it could actually influence you know, whether somebody could be convicted or could be released or exonerated, you know, based on on this.


Norbert Schwarz  06:01

Yeah, you’re obviously you’re a little bit ahead of us. Right. So I mean, in our studies, of course, says no real jury. It’s a mock setting, right? I mean, you’re simulating, as if this were a court setting. And you’re asking people these questions, and hopefully, in real court proceeding says lots of other information that’s coming in. But nevertheless, this can be a very consistent thing, you can easily see how, in a pandemic setting, everything says coming out of the defendants lawyers, poorly equipped office just doesn’t cut it. And it could become very systematic over different aspects of the inputs that are used at trial. Yeah. But I just wanted to, to make sure that I have not said that we have evidence it changes the outcome of such Why are we sure evidence changes the perception of the witness the answer perceived credibility of such testimony, which of course, is important in such while but there’s a change in such while we do not know.


Alastair McDermott  07:02

Yeah, I mean, I’m just projecting forward from you know, from what that what that what the end result could be. So I’m thinking of the the different places or the different scenarios that this could be important. So a lot of people listening to this will be independent consultants, and they will be some of them will just be talking to their clients over video calls over zoom. And in that area, their credibility is a you know, it is important and the same for anybody doing training online. The same for anybody doing like what I’m doing here doing a podcast. And so how significant is this? Like is like, obviously was statistically significant enough for you to to write about and credit to publish the study about it. Like how much impact is this having, you know, if somebody is, is every day is on zoom calls, and their audio is just not very good? Like, is that having having a sniff significant impact over time?


Norbert Schwarz  08:01

Yes, I think it will have a significant impact over time because it’s cumulative. And it changes how you approach the message and how you approach what’s the person says, it’s not just that a person sounds less compelling, and a bit less smart and a bit less likeable. It’s also said you are responding to set person a bit more critically. So you’re more likely to think about what’s that means we have quite a number of studies where we find said whenever we make it harder for you to understand some message, you feel that something’s wrong, entropy you become more vigilant so for example to give you another give you another example of when you ask people how many animals of each kind did Moses take on the Ark? If an answer to set Allaster


Alastair McDermott  08:50

yeah to two animals were we kind to Dune? Yeah,


Norbert Schwarz  08:53

except it’s a guy who did it wasn’t Moses Moses is the old coins a Bible who parts of waters but the guy was at this arc sets Noah and and what you did is exactly what we get in the exponents. More than 80% of people immediately say two because you focus on what I’m asking you about how many animals and you’re not focusing so but but but technically is a presupposition said it was Moses. Yeah. Now, when I print that question, we haven’t done that with audio, but I’m sure it would work with audio in the same way. When I print set question in an easy to read print font, almost 90% in our study, 88% do not notice that something is wrong when I make it a harder to read when font, which is a nice cursive and it takes a little more effort set to ups to about 50% sets. No. Ad a to about 51% is a huge drop. And it means that people have paused the message more carefully. paid more attention and noticed that something was wrong. And of course many variables we find that whenever See, processing of some message encounters some problem. So that is basically a signal that something may be wrong. And people kick in with with a more vigilant processing style and are more likely to notice actual problems in a message set also means if you’re a guy like me with a strong accent, you really have to be careful with what you say, because people are much more likely to pay attention to things that something may be wrong, and you’re much more scrutinised Sene if your accent is more mainstream, and just floats on. All


Alastair McDermott  10:42

right, so while I was going to ask you about the font, and the findings there, what I was gonna ask you about the font and the findings there is, if you are if people are being more vigilant, is that not? Is that not a net positive? Or does it depend on the context? Because people are being more critical? They noticed the mistake. They noticed that the the gotcha with the Moses versus No,


Norbert Schwarz  11:06

yeah, in many cases, it’s a good thing. In other cases, it’s a bad thing. So for example, to give you another another example, we presented people with a cooking recipe, or with an exercise routine set was printed in an easy to read font or a difficult to read font, and sand. We said, How long will it take? Will it be complicated? Would you like to do it? And people basically misread so difficulty of readings, that thing is indicative of such difficulty of doing it. So they actually thinks that recipe takes about 18 minutes to do that thing in an easy font. And it goes up to 29 minutes in a difficult font. And it seems more complicated and say I don’t want to do it. It undermines motivation because it seems to take a long time and it seems complicated and it’s not worth it. So this is a side effect of same kind of seeing an influence that we draw from our subjective experience of how easy or difficult a message is to process and in this case it’s leading us astray I made it makes you think that something is harder to do because it’s harder to read. Which really backfires if that happens to you in an advertisement. Now let’s change that setting a little bit and assume that you want a restaurant and you want to convince people and set your that’s the dishes that set you offer are really special and said it takes your kitchen a lot of time and effort to get set right? In that case it turns out it’s good for you to have a difficult to read font because people actually saying said it is more complicated and it will take more time and so willing to pay more for it. Interesting. Yes. Right. So it always depends on what you want to do. If you want to make sure that people now think critically about stuff. So and some difficulty is good. If you want to seem credible and trustworthy said difficulty can hurt you. If you want to convince people doing what you suggest to them is fun and easy and second do it sound difficult is terrible,


Alastair McDermott  13:22

right? So I read about a study done by a guy in the New York Times where he he did a study with with bite six fonts where he used Baskerville and Helvetica which is a really standard font and then something like Comic Sans and a couple others. And so his test found that Baskerville font was the most trustworthy when showing Are you familiar with that one? We’ve come across that


Norbert Schwarz  13:47

Yeah, I have I have a somewhat back memory of set. Some says phonies says says important differences in set and often what looks like funny discrepancies. So one thing is, do I believe you when I read your message, as indicated by whether I have thoughts to the contrary so I counter argue with you or whether I basically not and a completely different measure is I show you a print font and I say how credible Do you find this point font and sand colour and font set remind you of the headlines of Sydney New York Times other you know important documents historical documents often have an advantage nobody thinks that our we are Calibri is a particularly or saw rotative font because nothing authoritative has been printed in Zam yet at the same time are we are and colleague Lee are easy to process. And people are actually more likely to just not along when say we’d in our we are. We’re colloquy sent once a week, let’s say in basketball, right? But those are different things. So one is an infant’s that I taught for my own processing experience about whether I believe or not what I’m reading and see other is, does that thing have the characteristics of what is authoritative and important? And we often associate that with basically old and somewhat outdated point fonts.


Alastair McDermott  15:21

Yeah. So we can get people to think more critically, to be more vigilant to apply more scrutiny? If we make things a little bit more difficult that would that be true to say?


Norbert Schwarz  15:33

Yeah, so that’s, that’s correct. And I can tell you a bit about the reasons for that. It is one of those interesting cases where something said is correct. But use a side effects set on a little surprising. So when you ask people, how do you determine whether something is true. So criterias, they use are very reasonable. So basically say, Well, to be true, it has to be compatible with other stuff I know, it shouldn’t contradict things I’m aware of, it should not be internally inconsistent and contradictory, it should be internally coherent and plausible, it should come from a credible source, it should have some supporting arguments, all of which is is perfectly reasonable. All of these things share one important characteristic, when you hear some things that is at odds with other stuff, you know, you basically stumbled, you say, oh, what, but you know, you have counter arguments in your mind, and it slows you down. When texts that you read or a message that you hear is incoherent, contradictory, it slows you down, you stumble, when you hear from someone you never heard of, it’s not as easy and smooth as when that person is familiar to you, you know, the name, you know, as a person, you can much more easily remember who it is, and so on. So in all cases, and we have now five of these criterias that are important in charging tools in all of these cases, to quality set make something true, said it’s familiar said it’s not contradictory is that it said it’s compatible with other stuff, you know, allows for easier processing sensory qualities that make stuff false, said it’s unfamiliar said it’s contradictory to stuff you know, is that it’s internally incoherent, and so on. So your own experience of ease or difficulty, whether you stumbled or not, is a valid indicator of whether source criteria are likely to be met. And people are very sensitive to that feeling of ease or difficulty, and Sen. Surprisingly insensitive to reverse that feeling comes from that feeling can come from stuff that is really important. Like, it’s really not really at odds with other stuff, you know, it should slow you down, and you shouldn’t believe it, it’s really internally inconsistent, it should slow you down. And you should feel effects you should think twice before you say yes, but if I can make you stumble, because I give you poor audio, or a poor print font, or I printed in light blue on white, which is harder to read and dark blue on white, I gets the same effect, because you’re very sensitive to that experience of having difficulty and not sensitive to reset experience comes from. So completely unrelated things that are not diagnostics that anything is wrong, can make you feel something is wrong, simply by slowing you down and making it more complicated. And we use those variables because set allows us to identify so that is a subjective feeling, versus an objective attribute of the message said five seconds.


Alastair McDermott  18:53

So if we want people to trust us, we’ll make it easy to process. We make it you know, we make it the font as readable as possible. We make the, the audio as clear as possible. And equally,


Norbert Schwarz  19:08

you add in a few repetitions. You do things that really make it easy, like a coherent presentation, and advanced organisers that helps you organise what’s coming, and so on. So all of these, the mix of what really makes a message coherent, well organised, easy to process, and all C’s peripheral qualities, C audio supplement fonts, colour contrast, all of those things should play together. And that would be your greatest advantage.


Alastair McDermott  19:42

And then equally, somebody with nefarious purposes who wants to be unethical and tricks somebody could use those same tools, those same things. Yeah. Yeah. So a bit like a conman with a very kind of slick, easy manner


Norbert Schwarz  19:58

and con men do you know Ensler solet. And memo forces is basically, as long as your thoughts flow smoothly, you tend to not along. Yeah, that’s, that’s the thing. Let me add another aspect that your, that your listeners may find relevant. One of the important things of any person is your name. And whether your name is easy or difficult to pronounce. And we’ve done a large number of studies is upon on stability of names and trustworthiness offset. And background trusses is again, very straightforward for good reasons, which was people who we know and who are familiar to us, more so than people who we don’t know or who seem very different. And that’s a long story and says in the wall mechanism behind set, again, persons you know, I have names that you can usually easily pronounce and you are familiar with. And people who are similar to you have names who are similarly easy to pronounce. And names that you find difficult to read, difficult to pronounce hard to remember, are names of people who you don’t know. And as you get to know, samsa become easier to remember. And again, you get the same Association, whatever we do to make a name less fluent. So that’s the name is harder to pronounce harder to remember, makes set person less trustworthy. We’ve done experiments in which we created eBay handles. So hamfest for sellers on eBay set were easy or difficult to pronounce, we did set with names around the world by changing just a letter or something that changes upon our instability. And we got large effects for the region of sogard. But within each region of the world, so easy as a name was to pronounce some more credible seller seat. So the customers who made these judgments by looking at the website, seller, the customers who made these judgments, thoughts, that seller is more likely to honour his return policy sets of goods will be really as described, so will be a V itself will not be a Viet surprise, you will be able to get a refund if you need one, and so on, etc, etc. A measure of measure of trust and for all of these measures, such first is higher than the sellers name is easy to pronounce.


Alastair McDermott  22:27

Right. So I could be in trouble.


Norbert Schwarz  22:30

You could. I could.


Alastair McDermott  22:33

Yeah. So let me ask you about something. I think it’s related but slightly different. in marketing, there’s this thing of making a damaging admission. So saying something negative about your own product or service in a you know, in an admission to the to the customer before they buy, and that is increasing your credibility. Can you talk a little bit about why that is?


Norbert Schwarz  22:58

Yeah, I mean, people expect that you put some most positive spin on something and said you wouldn’t disclose if say is a problem. So if you can manage to disclose a small problem, that is not a deal killer, that increases your credibility. And it also gives you more credibility to send claim other things and not have people checksum all set closely. And for that reason is also good. No good tricks at con men like to use, you acknowledge some weakness, and it would be great if it’s a weakness that is relatively inconsequential, or a weakness that you share with all competitors. So yes, all of these things only know forever, last two years as to your competitors products. But yours is better on all other respects. But you acknowledge that you may only enjoy it for two years and stuff like that works like a charm, because people expect said if you were trying to talk them into a purchase, no matter what, you wouldn’t acknowledge anything bad.


Alastair McDermott  24:03

Yeah. So can you talk more about what makes for trust what what creates or engender trust in a relationship, like in a business relationship?


Norbert Schwarz  24:15

I mean, one thing is that we trust people more when they seem to be more like us. So trust has a very much a tribal quality to it. If you know that if you cheat me, I could tell all your friends and nobody would trust you again, you’re much more cautious. So if we meet on an aeroplane and you know we’ll probably never see one another again. And and that’s a core element of set and science. There are many markers that play into says, so if you seem to be like the guy who lives in my community, and who shares my network and so on, I’m more likely to trust us and if you don’t now what I talked about earlier, so easily switch. I can pronounce your name, how easily I can recognise how familiar your clothes seem and and all sorts other kinds of things are markers, again, of how likely it is that you’re a guy like me or you or some other guy from some other tribe. And that’s a big chunk of whether I trust you from the get go or not sign of course, as content content such that what I tell you is credible or not. And that’s all criterias that I could check against, says the history of our interaction. Have you cheated in the past? Or did my experience a specific good in the past. So those are all Sayer and Sam once again, so are incidental variables such you wouldn’t think of. So for example, in all languages that have been studied suspicion, distrust is associated with smell. So if you tell someone so it doesn’t smell, right, that seems to be understood around. So what differs is what differs by language and by culture is which smell is a smell of suspicion and distrust. So in English, and only in English said, smell is fishy. In German, for example, it’s foul, it’s a different bad spell. But in all countries where smell is specified, it is a smell of some organic material that you may eat. And you can see how that would be very adaptive in an evolutionary sense. So if you bring something close to bite into it, and it has a funny smell, you should step back, double check and find out what’s wrong with the stuff. Now, if that is so Zen smell, would be what we call an embodiment of suspicion of bodily sensation set can trigger suspicion. And my students and I did a whole series of experiments on side in which we incidentally expose you to a fishy smell. So for example, I asked you earlier, how many animals of each client has Moses take? did Moses take on CR? The ask people said we give some a question as it has that question. And it’s on a clipboard. And depending on condition, we do or do not smear some fish oil on set clipboard, so that when you have set questionnaire, so it’s a subtle but noticeable fishy smell and say. And if it’s fishy, sensei seems to be something fishy about Moses, and people are more likely to notice that the guy was the ark was not Moses. And that’s fascinating. gives the right gives the right answer. We also have given


Alastair McDermott  27:40

imagining somebody, I’m imagining somebody filling in this clipboard, I getting this smell, I’m pausing. I’m kind of looking around, and then looking down at the clipboard and taking another look at those words, and then filling in the right answer. Yeah,


Norbert Schwarz  27:54



Alastair McDermott  27:55

it’s just it’s just just your your senses being aroused. You’re, you kind of, you know, the radars go up. That’s what you’re talking about, right. I’m going to interrupt here for a second. If there’s anyone out there listening to this episode, who wants to show up better on podcasts on zoom calls, do better audio, better video, this is something that I’ve been working on for myself for the podcast here. I hope that you can hear it in the in the audio, at least the in the audio in this segment. So I’ve recently upgraded both my office of dumb and office renovation here to do some more treatment for audio quality. And I’ve also upgraded my equipment here in the studio in terms of the microphone, and even an audio interface. So I just want to tell you that I do have a free guide on how to improve your audio and your video, if you look at my videos on YouTube or LinkedIn, you’ll see that I have a pretty nice video setup. And I have a free guide on how to do this. And it’s called That sounds good. You can download it for free by going to The Recognized Slash That sounds good. It’s got some tips on improving your audio making your office sound better, the different types of microphones that are available, what’s really important about those, and I’ve got some recommendations for specific microphones, including from, you know, $30 up to about four or $500 a whole bunch of information in there. There’s no affiliate links or anything like that. It’s just straight up information. So if you’re interested in learning more about that, go to The Recognized slash That sounds good. Now back to the interview.


Norbert Schwarz  29:32

Yep, that’s that’s that’s what I’m talking about. Now, you could make it so blatant, that it doesn’t work. So if it’s if it’s really really stinky, and you say where’s that fish here that kind of kills it. So there has to be enough to arouse your suspicions that something’s wrong but not set blatantly clear set, you get it,


Alastair McDermott  29:54

so you can’t so not easily explained away. Yeah.


Norbert Schwarz  29:58

So sets also First of stuff I told you earlier about print fonts. So if you ask someone first, this is a study about when fonts, we will later ask you how easy it was to read the font. So effect is attenuated, it doesn’t completely go away. But it’s smaller, because people or at least some people become aware that it may only seem like a difficult task, because of when font is hard to read. Right? So when you become aware of these incidental variables that influence your subjective experience. So impact is always a bit reduced,


Alastair McDermott  30:34

right? So I have an example, where one of the very first podcasts I did was with a lady called Heather Steele. And Heather is an amazing, amazing person. But because of her circumstances, the recording environment she was in was very poor. And I just mentioned that at the start of the podcast, I said, Look, you know, this is the audio from Heather was quite poor, but the information is build, so please stick with it. And so that’s what you’re talking about. Preparing somebody in advance, right?


Norbert Schwarz  31:02

Yep. So that’s it, you want them to make the correct attribution. It’s not that she can’t get her sentence together. It is actually the technology has a problem. Yeah, yeah. You may be interested, we also find that we can make people smarter is a little bit official. So when we give people reasoning tasks set are superficially easy, but when you think about it, it becomes apparent that it’s, it’s more complicated. And you do set in the context of a little bit of fish oil set helps because you’re more vigilant and you’re a little suspicious, and you notice that it’s not as trivial as it seems on first glance, and set those effects seem particular to smells set qualified test sets that meets that criterion said it may be stuffs that you may eat and it smells a bit bad. It’s not true for all bad smells. In the control conditions of C’s experiments, we use another bad smells that people find reasonably disgusting, but that does not influence their reasoning and satisfied spray. So it’s no joke product for spray smells exactly like cigarettes s and we sprays that and people find it unpleasant but it doesn’t influence our reasoning. It doesn’t make them more suspicious. more vigilant. Apparently the other guy feels comfortable with you. It is it is not every bad smell it is smells at all right. No characteristic.


Alastair McDermott  32:34

Something that isn’t easily explained away because the fire smell can be explained away. That’s not a sentence ever thought I would say on the podcast. But yes, the fire smell can be easily explained away. Okay, fascinating stuff. Really, really amazing. Okay, so if somebody is listening to this, I just want to talk about actionable advice. So people listening to this, they want to be seen as an authority, they want to be seen as credible. What recommendations do you have based on on your findings?


Norbert Schwarz  33:04

Well, it’s not relatively straightforward, you should do your best to have good audio so that none of the contextual variables make it difficult for your audience to understand what you want to say. So you should have good audio you should have an easy to read blend font, good colour contrast, whatever your medium is, set should be your goal. If you cannot achieve set you want to make them aware set any difficulties you may experience is unfortunately due to your tricky Wi Fi or some other variable it was us and you being unable to get your thoughts together. But of course, you also want to do everything that you can to really make your message easy to process, which means you want to use advanced organisers, you want to use examples that people can remember, and so on. And you need to tailor ourselves to your audience. So everything you learned about how to present your message applies what you didn’t learn typically is sets a context can completely trip you up said a bad phone connection makes your research unimportant. And you’re wasting your time talking about it. Because you know your phone connection is lousy, search your print font that you may never have picked, somebody else decided how to print that thing. So to your point font may trip you up. And so that’s a relevant piece and science is always an element set. You don’t have no control over and set is a receiver side. So no matter how good your audience is, and no matter how good you Allister come up with good sound quality. If I’m listening to your podcast with a lousy speaker, and the poor connection, sign again, it will not be as compelling and said some things that neither your guest nor you can control.


Alastair McDermott  34:57

Yeah, mind you. If that’s the case, then probably Everybody that you listen to sounds less credible. So so we were all in the same. It’s a flat playing field, right?


Norbert Schwarz  35:07

Yeah, to some extent, yeah, to some extent. But you can also see, you can also see how you could look, or you could tricks. I mean, if you were, if you were political communication manager, you might want to downgrade the audio. Whenever you play clips from CS aside, you might want to set interviewer who goes out there to interview a candidate from the other tribe, to have a microphones that doesn’t work as well, as many nasty ways in which you can play out is very


Alastair McDermott  35:45

tricky, or Trixie. Okay, so so we can do everything we can to reduce the difficulties in processing our information, whether that’s through reading, or through audio, or through video, whatever that is, make it easy to process. Does that include By the way, using easier to understand language easier to understand words, simpler words, simpler vocabulary?


Norbert Schwarz  36:11

Yes, in principle, it implies that says a little trade off, if you are in a professional context, you are also supposed to use a professional language Set, Go sad, and sad is appropriate, because your professional audience will understand it. But it makes it more difficult for other people who may also listen to you. And so it says a certain trade off in how you signal your competence, and your understanding of the language of your profession on the one hand, and keep your message excessive, which were part our audience and people often manage set by saying SP say in my field and sense flow, it’s the right word, because it lets it go back and forth between everyday language and technical terminology.


Alastair McDermott  36:59

Yeah, yeah. Well, I think Einstein said, If you can’t explain it to a five year old, you don’t understand it yourself. So that’s a good point. Yeah. So it is something we talked about in, you know, the world of online marketing and online content creation is in writing for Honestly, I don’t know the American grade school system. But in writing, like for an eighth grade, or fifth grade, I’m not sure but basically writing for a 10 year old so that if you’re if your whatever you’re writing can be read and comprehended by a 10 year old, then that should be easy for anybody to scan read it, because quite often you’re scan reading this, this information, maybe on a mobile device, maybe in in a bad environment, or you know, maybe even while you’re stopped at the traffic lights. Yep. Which I think a lot of people will be So


Norbert Schwarz  37:48

absolutely, absolutely. And of course, misinformation also benefits from a few of these aspects. So for example, so more often you hear something, the easier it is to process, because it becomes familiar. I said earlier said no, when many authors believe it says probably something to it. When you see it on social media, where your friends have liked it, and we posted it says an endorsement rights there. And it also tends to feel more familiar as time goes by, because you see it more often as your friends cycle. It’s was a network. And so as as many of these things that come to many of the things that I talked about, contribute to spread of fake news and to the popularity of misinformation because they make it familiars and make it seem indoors to see it over and over again. And under conditions where care for processing is relatively unlikely as you flip through your phone and think about other things.


Alastair McDermott  38:45

Right? Yeah, that’s, that’s a little bit depressing as well. Yes. Okay, let me switch gears a little bit. I want to ask I I like to ask my business guests about failures in their business. I’m just wondering, is there a failure in your in your career that you could talk about that that, that you can share, and what you learned from it?


Norbert Schwarz  39:08

Um, I mean, one of my biggest one of my biggest failures is actually translating my own research and my own results into my everyday life. And you might think said, after last conversation we just had said I would not show SEO effects I’m talking about and sets one, even so I know how it works. And even so I’m someone who produces salmon experiments I fall for it is so ingrained in our psychology and in how we make it schools a day set we rely on see sort of feelings of ease and difficulties that make things seem fine or problematic. And now you have to watch out set. Even when you know how that works. You fall for that. And I find myself nodding along to things I shouldn’t not along to it. find myself alerted by things that have no reason to alert. And when I step back and I look at it, I recognise where I went wrong. But it is very sad to me that knowing stuff doesn’t really help me deal with it. In the moment. It helps me analyse what went wrong, but it doesn’t protect me in any way. And in many ways, I think sets up failure also assists with search and its application set, we understand how this stuff works, but our own intuitions as we go through the day are not updated quickly enough. And so so


Alastair McDermott  40:38

good or good is so strong that we can’t bypass.


Norbert Schwarz  40:42

Yeah. That’s that’s bothersome.


Alastair McDermott  40:46

That is that is absolutely fascinating. Okay, so on, ahm, on a different note. Do you have any resources that you could recommend that people check out or a favourite book or kind of nonfiction resource that you’d recommend people should look at?


Norbert Schwarz  41:00

I have just been reading and now I’m probably mingling and probably manually inserts a title. So “Constitution of Knowledge” by an Asana, the name of how and I’m probably mispronouncing and pronouncing Trump R-A-U-C-H sets allow sets smoke in German, but I’m not sure what’s a proper English pronunciation is


Alastair McDermott  41:23

Rauch? Rauch? “The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defence of Truth”, okay, well put that in the show notes.


Norbert Schwarz  41:30

And I highly recommend it. It’s a very thoughtful book about misinformation about politics, about political polarisation, about respect for evidence, and it is an excellent and worthwhile book to look at.


Alastair McDermott  41:45

Fascinating. Okay, that looks very interesting. And what about for, for when you’re chilling out? What, do you have a preferred fiction book? Or do you watch movies or what’s your what’s your go to?


Norbert Schwarz  41:58

You know, in many ways my go to is the Daily News. Doesn’t, which doesn’t qualify, it’s chilling out. But eats up a lot, eats up a lot, eats up a lot of my time for chilling out, I enjoy looking at some things that probably I’m not even sure if it’s available in English. It’s 200 years old, by the book by Liston back, who has whose was a chemist about 200 years ago, who has written little notes as events was a day, little nasty thoughts about his day, and it is timeless, little insights. And I can not tell you if it would be available in English, but it is the kind of things that you can no look at for five minutes. It’s all little one pages, and it puts a smile on your face. recognise some people as if you had known Sam and you obviously haven’t. And it’s a delightful way of now churning out tuning out cold bath salts.


Alastair McDermott  43:07

Super. Okay, that sounds really interesting and normal. Where can people find you if they’re interested in following up or reading more about the studies? Where can people find you online?


Norbert Schwarz  43:16

Can you can find me online at Twitter, a knops a n ob s. And you can look at my work by going to Google Scholar and typing in my name, Norbert Schwartz, and you will find a lot of sub works that we have done sir. And you will also find be at the homepage, you can just Google my name, it will also bring up a Wikipedia page set group of former students has done


Alastair McDermott  43:46

Cool. Well I will link to all of those in the show notes to the word Schwarz, thank you so much for being with us today. I really appreciate it.


Norbert Schwarz  43:53

Thank you It was a pleasure and I hope I didn’t discourage you too much.


Alastair McDermott  43:58

Thank you. I hope you enjoyed that episode. Like I said, this is one of my favourite interviews so far. And I’m really fascinated by the different aspects of trust and authority and and how quality of things like video and audio come into that. So I did mention during the episode, I do have a free guide available for anybody out there who’s been listening who wants to improve your audio and video, I have a free guide available for you. If you want to sound better show up better on video and podcasts and zoom calls. So you can go to The Recognized Authority comm slash that sounds good, which I will also link in the show notes and you can download that guide for free. It’s got a whole bunch of information about different microphones, making your office sound better, how to make your video look better without spending a lot of money on you know different cameras and things. There’s a lot of very simple things that you can do. So to check that out, you can go to The Recognized Authority comm slash That sounds good. Thanks for listening. See you in the next one.