Om at hedde det rigtige og ikke læse forkert

labyrint

Til mødet i Rom talte vi om mulige nye deltagere i vores forskernetværk. Vores formand havde fået en henvendelse fra en mand i Ukraine, der gerne ville være med. Han hed Vyacheslav Levytskyy; jeg tænkte med det samme uvilkårligt: hvordan skal det navn dog udtales? Ingen af de tilstedeværende kendte noget til ham, og vi gik hurtigt videre uden at træffe en beslutning. Måske var vi bare forudindtagede mod ukrainske navne.

Jeg har på Edge.org læst et interessant interview med Adam Alter fra New York University Stern School of Business. Adam Alter forsker i fluency, her forstået som hvor flydende vi mennesker opfatter en kommunikation og hvilke konsekvenser fluency og mangel på samme (disfluency) kan have. Et interessant aspekt er netop egennavne:

We’ve shown, for example, in some studies that if you look at lawyers who join law firms they tend to ascend up the legal hierarchy much more quickly when their names are easy to pronounce or process. That’s independent of a whole lot of other factors, like how foreign the name is. Even if you look at American male names, you’ll find that the ones that are easier to pronounce, there tends to be a relationship where they tend to progress up the hierarchy more.

Man kan læse hvordan danskere med ikke-danskklingende navne (ofte er det danskere med arabisk eller tyrkisk baggrund) i nogle tilfælde skifter navn og at andre oplever et stort antal afslag, når de oplyser deres ikke-danskklingende navn. Jeg er selv helt overbevist om at fordomme hos arbejdsgivere har en stor del af skylden, men gad vide om det også er navnes “sværhedsgrad” der spiller ind blandt ? I så fald må arbejdsgivere også være opmærksomme på dette.

Interviewet med Adam Alter har en hel masse andre fascinerende observationer om hvordan letflydende og sværtflydende kommunikation påvirker vores opfattelse af det, der bliver kommunikeret. Begrebet fluency spiller blandt andet også ind, når man skal læse en tekst. En tekst kan tilsyneladende blive for letflydende:

There’s a famous task called the Cognitive Reflection Test, and this test has three different questions, and each of the questions lures you into giving the wrong response, because the intuitive response is actually incorrect. An example of this is, “When you add the cost of a bat and a ball together the sum of those two is worth $1.10, and the bat costs a dollar more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?” It’s a very simple question. Anyone with basic arithmetic skills can answer it.

But if you present the questions in a font that’s a little bit more difficult to read, we found that you can increase their accuracy pretty dramatically. They make fewer of those intuitive responses. They take the time to reconsider their initial responses. They assume that the task is more difficult. They have a bit less confidence in their initial response, and so they tend to do a little bit better at the task. The same is true when you ask them to complete syllogism questions, logical syllogisms, any questions that ask you to think more deeply about a particular topic, where thinking more deeply will lead you to the right answer more often. We’ve shown that with disfluency people are more likely to do that. We have even found the same effect in a number of other domains as well.

Så æstetik er alt andet end triviel; det ikke handler om at finde en font, der får teksten til at “flyde let”, men får os til at få ro til at læse teksten grundigt.

En særlig form for kommunikation, hvor denne udfordring dukker op, er undervisning. Adam Alter giver i sit interview udtryk for noget, der faktisk er en meget vigtig holdning til dette at lære:

It’s very important that people struggle a little bit with tasks early on, because not only are they learning the tasks by doing them, but in a global high-level sense, the act of persevering through that difficulty, and of learning what it feels like to struggle with these things, to deal with the difficulty, makes you better at dealing with future examples of it when you’re really faced with many more difficult tasks.