seeing who's a winner

What matters most in a music competition—the music, right? Before you answer, consider this study: Some volunteers were asked to guess which performers won classical music competitions after listening to audio of the contest. Others were given audio and video of the performances. A third group got the video with no sound. Despite not hearing a note, the last group, going off of video without audio, guessed the winners better than the volunteers who could actually hear the performances. These volunteers were not just music fans—they were amateur and professional musicians. Both these volunteers and the actual judges of the contests allowed the visual image to outweigh the music itself when judging its value.

Researcher took the study one step further by trying to figure out what made the difference. If you think it was the attractiveness of the performer, think again. The social cues related to passion and creativity provided the biggest indication as to which performances would be judged award winning.

Often what we say we value (in this case, the music itself) takes a backseat to what we really value (the performer's visual presentation flare and appearance).

Details of the study are in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. You can read it here.

Stephen Goforth