“Precisely Right. No Doubt. Trust Me.”

The Huffington Post:

As a general rule, we tend to value confidence in other people, especially in the “experts” who help us with important decisions in life. Who wants a financial advisor who hesitates in his judgments, or a physician who waffles on every diagnosis and prescription? I want my lawyer to look me in the eye and speak with certainty about the law, and I look for consistency and self-assurance in politicians and leaders. Our decisions in these realms can have profound consequences, so we don’t want to take our cues from the wishy-washy.

Fortunately, these experts are all people, and people offer us cues. The rhythm of speech, nervous tics, posture — all of these and more can signal confidence or insecurity, and we’re pretty good at reading these clues. But what if we cannot see these experts that help shape our decisions? More and more of our communication takes place online these days. We make our judgments and choices based on information that comes without smiles or shrugs or distant gazes. How do we identify self-assured experts in the digital age?

Psychological scientist Daniel Oppenheimer and his colleagues at UCLA believe that the way we use numbers could signal confidence, in the absence of face-to-face contact. Specifically, the UCLA scientists suggest that when people use precise numbers rather than rounded numbers — 3012 rather than 3000 — this is taken as a sign of confidence in the source, making the information and the expert source more trustworthy. They tested this idea in a couple experiments.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APS, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology. Follow Wray on Twitter @wrayherbert.

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