Sunday, March 19, 2006

Looks matter.

Our response to beauty is hard-wired. Douglas Kenrick, professor of psychology at Arizona State University, studied babies as young as eight-months old.

Eye-tracking shows that babies will stare longer at an attractive female face, no matter what the race. We define being beautiful as having symmetrical, regular features with big eyes, thick lips and smooth skin.

It takes people three seconds to judge new acquaintances. Nalini Ambady, professor of psychology at Tufts University’s work shows that brief exposures become “thin slices on experience” that we rely on to instantly judge others.

There is a bonus for beauty and a penalty for plainness. Most people use looks to judge others (and themselves).

People with above-average looks earn a premium ranging from one to 13 percent. People with below-average looks get a penalty ranging from one to 15 percent.

Surprisingly enough, men’s looks have a larger effect on their earnings than women.

For Harvard MBAs, the difference in earnings over the first ten years of their careers was between 15 to 28 percent for men who were handsome.

No one escapes. Even for men who earn hourly wages, those who are judged homely earn about 9 percent less than those who are average. Above-average looking men receive a five percent premium.

For women, the penalty for homeliness was 5 percent while the premium for good looks was 4 percent.

Research by the Canadian Psychological Association found that men are as likely as women to have negative body images. Seventy-five percent of men don’t like how they look.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

How Do People Make An Impression?

People often make impressions in subtle ways. (They also make them in foolish, obvious ways, but we won’t go there.)

If you’re at a party or an event, what can you do to help people remember you?

· Say your name three times. It has a better chance of sinking in. “Hi, I’m Dell. Dell Richards. I run Dell Richards Publicity.”

· Always carry business cards. You never know who you might meet.

· Prepare a seven-second spiel that describes you, your interests or job. “I help people get into newspapers and magazines, radio and television without wasting money on advertising.”

· Ask questions. Target your conversation to the other person’s interests and needs, not your own. You will find out more that way and be seen as a lively conversationalist. In reality, you will be practicing the dying art of conversation.

· Think of yourself as a resource: How can you help people by hooking them up with others?

· Don’t talk more than 50 percent of the time.

· If you exchange phone numbers or cards, follow-up in 24 hours.

· If there are name tags, wear it on the right side. That way, you lead with it if you shake hands.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

We remember ads & cartoons. Not public policy.

It’s not surprising that we remember advertising tag lines and cartoon characters more than public policy issues.

Advertising relies on catchy phrases and jingles.

Cartoons rely on color and fast-moving images.

Policy policy and history? Long, archaic language like “redress.”

That’s why a recent poll* found that:
We know more about “The Simpsons” than First Admendment freedoms.

Which are the freedom of:
Speech, Religion, Meetings and Political Rallies, Media and Being
Able to Sue or Appeal a Judgment and Get Money.

The medium is the message.

But, the medium has to grab our attention for us to remember the content.

Despite blogging, we are moving out of the age of print and into the age of pictures.

That’s why newspapers, magazines and the Internet rely on short sentences, short paragraphs and simple language.

We don’t have the time or patience for anything else.

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* Study for the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum. Telephone survey of 1,000 adults conducted 1/20/06 to 1/22/06 by Synovate, a research firm with margin of error 3 percent.