A Moment of Science

Why Is Face-To-Face Testimony More Convincing?

"The man who" effect and how it effects face-to-face testimony.

two men in deep conversation

Photo: Andrew (Flickr)

Knowing of person who has gone through something can be more convincing than a statistic about people who have gone through the same situation.

You may have heard statistic facts from a friend and believed them to be true. However, what happens if a friend tells you face-to-face that those facts are false. Who do you believe?

Social psychologists are familiar with this effect, sometimes called “the man who” effect.

If  you hear that, “Ninety percent of the people who try this drug receive benefit from it.” While your friend says, “I know a man who tried it and nothing happened!”

Somehow the face-to-face testimony of one person seems more convincing than any amount of statistics.

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