New York: Do you often get influenced by trivial information such as graphs or formulas given on consumer products like food, supplements or even medications and buy them instantly? Hold your nerves for a moment.
According to an interesting study, people who believe in science may actually fall for information that appears scientific but does not reveal much.
“Anything that looks scientific can make information you read a lot more convincing. The scientific halo of graphs, formulas and other trivial elements that look scientific may lead to misplaced belief,” cautioned study’s lead author Aner Tal from Cornell University's food and brand lab.
In the study, Tal and co-author Brian Wansink, author of "Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life", recruited 61 individuals to read information about a new medication.
Half of the participants read a paragraph about the medication and the other half read the same paragraph with an accompanying graph. The graph did not provide any new information.
These graphs helped convince almost all of the participants that the medication worked.
“While 96.6 percent of those who saw the graph believed that the medication would effectively reduce illness, whereas only 67.7 percent of those who saw only the text believed that that it would reduce illness,” Tal noted.
In the second study, 56 participants were presented with an added sentence repeating that the medication reduced illness by 20 percent.
Those who indicated a belief in science expressed the strongest confidence in the effectiveness of the medication.
“A general faith in science may lead people to believe things that just look scientific but are actually not,” Tal said.
"Do not let things that look scientific but do not really tell you much fool you,” he advised.
The study was published in the journal Public Understanding of Science.