I’ve long thought that a clipboard was a powerful prop. I only have to hold one and I start to feel more officious.
So it’s good to see this research reported by Ed Yong that goes further suggesting that the weight of the clipboard has a significant impact on our thinking:
Ackerman showed that holding a light or heavy clipboard can affect a person’s decision-making. In a study of 54 volunteers, those who clutched the heavier board rated a job candidate more highly based on their resume, and thought that they displayed a more serious interest in the job. They even rated their own assessments as being more important! However, the boards didn’t affect the recruits’ judgments on areas unrelated to importance, such as the candidate’s ability to get along with others.
In a second test with 43 volunteers, those who held the heavier boards were more likely to call for government funds to be spent on serious social matters like setting air pollution standards, over more trivial affairs like public toilet regulations. Again, the mere feeling of weight appears to influence the importance we give to matters.
In fact all sorts of tactile experiences appear to change the way we judge the world. I suspect that in our wordy culture we easily lose sight of this. And more evidence of the extraordinary number of variables that no management model can ever hope to pin down in accounting for the success or failure of a system.
Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan