Friday, January 16, 2015

Lowered Expectations, Altered Abilities

Here at MHKC@PSU, we love NPR and radio-based storytelling in general. Our lovely graduate assistant, Claire LaPoma, even got to tell a story on The Moth radio show! Storytelling is a great way to share experiences and relay information to audiences who might otherwise assume disinterest before listening.

On the other hand, sometimes stories can be…lengthy. But with a good story, you don't notice the time passing, right? That's how it is with this story from This American Life, which explores whether setting expectations inhibits performance and success.

It begins with an experiment on lab rats: all the rats were deemed "average," but they had signs in front of their cages that labeled each rat as either superior or inferior in intelligence. The rats were then given to experimenters who were to send the rats through a maze. Some experimenters assumed they had highly intelligent rats and others assumed they had unintelligent rats, but all were of average intelligence. The results of the experiment were difficult for many to believe.

This led radio host, Lulu Miller, to ask the question "Could my expectations make a blind person who literally has no eyeballs, see?"

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