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TV-Kameras als Meinungsmacher?

Studie findet visuellen Bias in der Analyse von 5 Kanzler-Debatten





Wahre Neutralität in TV-Debatten von SpitzenpolitikerInnen müßte sich auch in der gleichartigen Behandlung durch die Kameras widerspiegeln. Gerade in einem visuellen Medium reichte es nicht, Gleichheit zwischen den KandidatInnen nur über die Redezeit oder völlig idente Fragen der ModeratorInnen herzustellen. Das jedenfalls ist die Conclusio einer neuen deutschen Studie, wonach es visuellen Bias in sämtlichen 5 TV-Debatten zwischen den jeweiligen KanzlerkandidatInnen 2002 – 2017 gegeben hat: CDU-PolitikerInnen wurden dabei im Schnitt durch deutlich mehr Kamerabewegung, Zoom-ins, oder Close-ups dynamischer dargestellt als ihre jeweiligen Konkurrenten von der SPD. Und einmal, 2009, führten besonders statische Bilder sogar dazu, die TV-Debatte zwischen Angela Merkel und Frank-Walter Steinmeier insgesamt als überaus langweilig abzuurteilen.

Die WissenschaftlerInnen empfehlen daher, den Möglichkeiten des visuellen Bias in derartigen Sendungen mehr Augenmerk zu schenken.

Maier/Glogger/Bast, „Is there a visual bias in televised debates? Evidence from Germany, 2002–2017“, in: Visual Communication, vol. 22, issue 2, May 2023, pp. 221-242.

Aus der Praxis:

PressesprecherInnen wissen mittlerweile längst, dass sie vor derartigen TV-Auftritten ihrer Schützlinge mit dem/r Sendungsverantwortlichen auch über die Kameraführung sprechen müssen. Doch kann man sich darauf verlassen? Meiner Meinung nach nur teilweise, weil in diesem Kontext eine 100%ige Gleichbehandlung wohl Illlusion bleiben wird. Natürlich können Kameraleute noch mehr angehalten werden, keine/n AkteurIn im Studio zu benachteiligen – allein: sie agieren ja nicht nur, sondern reagieren auch bzw. vor allem auf das, was vor ihren Augen passiert.

Es bleibt daher weiterhin auch in der Verantwortung des/r jeweiligen Spitzenpolitikers/in, selbständig für Dynamik innerhalb der Sendung zu sorgen: auf der nonverbalen Ebene ziehen auffallende Gesten bzw. das Präsentieren von Dingen, die mit den Inhalten in Verbindung stehen, Kameras immer auf sich. Auf der verbalen Ebene sorgen zB plakative Beispiele sowie direkter Dialog mit der/m ModeratorIn oder dem/m Kontrahenten für Lebendigkeit und eine persönliche Note, die vom Vis-a-vis völlig unabhängige Stehsätze nicht annähernd erreichen können.

Social costs beat the truth

Curtailing Fake News means to bring back sharers from isolation




There is one key reason why Fake News are shared on Social Media: because one is being kicked out, not contacted anymore or blocked by the community as quickly as if you have posted the truth. Conservative groups are even faster in doing that than liberal ones, smaller groups more consequent than bigger ones. Hence Fake News are primarily shared by people who fear the virtual isolation = people whose self esteem is dependent from being group member in the internet. This is at least the converse conclusion being the resume in an international research project (Duke University, INSEAD, IIT Delhi) where 100.000 tweets have been recorded and been analysed within six studies.

The scientists recommend therefore to consider this emotional aspect in the fight against Fake News unconditionally.

Lawson/Anand/Kakkar, „Tribalism and Tribulation: The Social Costs of Not Sharing Fake News”, in: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General”, 2023, vol. 152, no. 3, 611-631.


From the practice:

This is my moment of proceeding: according to these new insights we ought to strengthen the resistance against Fake News not only rationally with dates, facts and figures, but even more with strategies focused on emotions.

What could this mean for you as leaders?

  1. To put more attentiveness and more time into personal break outs with employees
  2. To create more positive We-experiences in the job and in corporate activities (environment, social, sports, culture) and 3. To be more than ever role model – by being transparent and promoting not dull, but differentiated communication.

Short Cuts at Work: Curse or Blessing?

Realistic deadlines and clear priorities are minimizing risks





When we think we are too slow, we cut things short – also at work. 1. Because we want to fulfill expectations of superiors and clients an 2. Due to frustration, since when not getting along quickly enough we tend to have inferior feelings. Additionally: Short Cuts occur more often when immediate short-term rewards like bonusses or prestige are to be gained by keeping the deadline. That is even though the neglecting of standard procedures may be more lead to more damage than keeping the deadline – according to a newly published Canadian study.

Hence the researchers advise leaders to reflect the issue „Speed at the working place“ with their staff much more often and to proactively convey that Short Cuts have to be for good reasons the exception to the rule.

Phan/Nishioka/Beck/Scholer, “Goal progress velocity as a determinant of shortcut behaviors”, in: Journal of Applied Psychology, 108 (4), 553-570, 2023.

From the practice:

Short Cuts are a big topic. Why do they emerge? For many different reasons: a) structurwise: standard procedures may be not suitable for keep the specific deadline, b) personalwise: you might have started to late o rare simply not knowledgeable enough to finish the work within the time frame, c) leadershipwise: the requirements have been too high from the very beginning and incentives might have been connected only to meeting the deadline.

For solving or even avoiding the issue of short cuts at work I recommend something astonishingly simple: talk with each other! Talk to improve standard procedures if necessary, to get better organized, to set a later deadline from the start or to define together when and under which circumstances short cuts are welcome and what is to be noted then particularly.

When is it unconditional to keep the deadline? When is it good, when bad? Please talk about that in your offices – it pays off.

Less is more – even for experts

Additional information makes papers and articles often worse, not better





It is the presenter´s paradox: Figures, graphics, citations, footnotes or supplementary texts that experts like to integrate additionally into the original paper or article can worsen the overall quality instead of improve. This is due to 2 reasons: 1. Because readers base their evaluation on averaging and so 2. Since this type of additional information is often of minor quality as the original contribution judgements are then more likely to deteriorate.

Hence American researchers call for simplicity in the current edition of Journal of Management. They argue that in the last 25 years papers were getting 60% longer, with 60% more citations and three times for control variables which has made even abstract, hypotheses or discussions less readable as wished.

Connelly/Ketchen,jr/Zhou, „The Presenter´s Paradox: More is not Always Better“, in: Journal of Management, 1-10,

From the practice:

Less is more! And being a coach I do know that it takes sometimes courage to resist the temptation of additional supplements – at least to a high extent.

It takes courage not to overtake recos by peers, superiors or reviewers criticlessly, but to doublecheck first of all if they actually lead to an improvement. And even if this might be the case, then still one has to adjust the original version not to dilute the key messages. And it takes courage at a certain point in working on the paper or article to stop trying to improve again and again and again. It takes courage to simply let it be.

Transgressors with power don´t apologize easily

Lawyers and PR consultants handle this respect very differently





People with and in power are less apologetic than subordinates in case of a mistake. Why? Because transgressors with authority focus primarily on their own interest. Therefore these people – superiors vs. employees, instructors vs. students, physicians vs. patients or politicians vs. voters – do have difficulties to bring „Sorry“ let alone „I apologize“ over their lips.

The scientists recommend that leaders and experts of any kind try change their perspective and look at the situation with the eyes of the involved one(s). This facilitates taking responsibility for mistakes explicitly – a behavior most of us are waiting for in such a situation.

Guilfoyle/Struthers/van Monsjou/Shoikhedbrod/Eghbali/Kermani, „Sorry, not Sorry: The Effect of Social Power on Transgressors´ Apology and Nonapology“, in: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied“, 06 Jan 2022, 28(4):883-897.


From the practice:


Very much true. And still I would like to add an aspect which I have encountered so often in my years as a professional coach: more often then many may expect there is sort of conflict when a top manager or politician has made a mistake between his/her advisers behind the scenes

Lawyers almost always recommend not to apologize since legal claims might be raised then more quickly. We as communication experts on the contrary suggest frequently the complete opposite: to apologize whenever appropriate because honest apologies create sympathies and understanding for the mistake which has been made. And even if there is a follow up at court, this newly built reputation and improved image pays off then and even there.

By the way: Authentic, concise and emotionally meaningful apologies can be elaborated on in one or two coaching sessions and can be trained pretty well.

Experience is not Expertise

Hierarchy supports Groups in Decision Making and Performance




It is relevant whether a group consists „only“ of equally ranked ones of if there is someone amid them bearing responsibility – at least when it comes to the quality of decisions and high performance.

This is one of the key outcomes of a newly published American-Australian scientific paper: Egalitarian groups are influenced in their decision making processes pretty quickly by experience one or more among them is bringing in. What they neglect then, though, is the fact of the matter that experience = routine does not stand necessarily for expertise = ability. This situation changes promptly if someone is part of the group who is higher ranked than the others: being now motivated by potential rewards the real experts pop up and in becoming visible they determine substance and direction of the group. Better decisions subsequently lead to higher performances – therefore groups with hierarchy prevail in competitive situations.

Bonner/Soderberg/Meikle/Overbeck, “The Effects of Experience, Expertise, Reward Power. And Decision Power in Groups”, in: Group Dynamics: Theory, Research and Practice, 2022, vol. 26, Nr. 4, 309 – 321.

From the practice:

Whether we like it or not: grassroots democracy in the office is frequently satisfied with in the lowest common determinator and not in more quality in decisions. This is not easy to accept, I know. The truth is, though, that workshops without any moderator or meetings without any superior or project leader take longer and result in less concrete take aways.

Additionally I´d like to express my sympathy with this study since they point to the underestimated fact that experience as routine is of no high value per se. Just people doing things or executing tasks for years does not mean necessarily that they do it well, let alone professionally. Particularly within my business I am very much aware of this argumentation: he/she has held so many speeches and presentations in their career – he/she is therefore a good speaker or presentator. No! You may do things over years still mediocre – quantity does not lead directly to quality. When there is no corrective, improvements are difficult to be established, aren´t they?

Proactivity gets highest rewards

Don´t rely on incentives when you have to identify prospective leaders





Ideas for improvement are rewarded with praise and career opportunities if they are being made proactively. If the very same ideas are launched via incentives that are carried out by the organization or superiors managerial appreciation and support are significantly lower. Behind this phenomenon lies the assumption that employees who have to be invited or explicitly asked to show engagement cannot be intrinsically motivated. And only this supposedly most authentic sort of motivation is essential when it comes to selecting prospective leaders for the company, the institute or the party.

These are the results of a recently published intercultural study run by scientists in the US (Maryland) and India. Additionally the researchers point out that incentives still are an effective tool for getting employees involved and empowered. Heads in spe are to be much better identified by their proactive engagements to the benefit of the organization, though.

Park/Tangirala/Hussain/Ekkirala: „How and When Managers Rewards Employee´s Voice: The Role of Proactivity Attributions”, In: Journal of Applied Psychology, 2022, vol. 107, Nr. 12, 2269-2284.

From the practice:

Doesn´t this sound familiar to you even when you think about private stuff? Who is calling, texting or emailing you proactively without any extra need = just in-between times will be much more considered to be a true friend or a really interested member of your family than those who do this just in case of your birthday or the Festive Season.

Once again I am holding a plea for proactivity: to move by yourself and not to wait until being asked provides significantly more pros than cons: when you pop up on your own because tasks cannot be finished as agreed, when you are flagging up your observations concerning deficits and unregularities of your own accord or when you bring in ideas without having been nudged. This sort of proactivity stands for responsibility, true interest and the capability to entrepreneurial thinking.

And please don´t worry: even the shyest among you can train and learn it.

Time Pressure is an excuse

Maximum transparency helps in case of strategic ignorance





„I don´t need to know this” – how often do we say or hear this sentence, particularly under time pressure and when decisions have to be made. A recent German-British study demonstrates, though: to argue quick, superficial decisions that are more self-serving than useful for the cause with time pressure is just a lame excuse. The researchers have identified much more avoidance of conflict resolution as the key trigger when decision makers do not want to deal with the real issues although helpful information and data would be available. It is simply more challenging to avoid what has to be done when we do know how to solve the respective problems. It is simply more difficult then to execute change, effective change, which might evoke conflicts – with yourself and with others.

The scientists recommend maximum transparency – that´s how to get strategic ignorance under control.

Jarke-Neuert/Lohse, „I´m in a Hurry, I don´t want to know! Strategic ignorance Under Time Pressure”, in: Journal fo Experimental Psychology: General, 151(11), 2833–2845.

From the practice:

Who does not want to be aware of his/her own deficits, will not look for a psychotherapist. Who does not intend to change his/her behavior in the office, will not be interested in new methods of leadership. Who wants to make decisions without changing anything effectively, does not need any information about long-longlasting approaches. But: looking away pays off only in short term – issues are getting bigger over time.

Maximum transparency against strategic ignorance means: 1. Be aware unconditionally about the negative consequences of your alleged quick wins: what does this tell to yourself and what for the involved ones? 2. Do confront these consequences with the benefits, with the advantaqes of sustainable solutions and your respective decisions. 3. And please ask yourself then, whether you still „do not need to know”.

Relationship needs time

Talks are finished way to early – due to false assumptions






Most of us deny themselves enjoyable interesting moments in finishing talks with new acquaintances like seat neighbors in the plane, at the conference or at a party much too early. Why do we do so? Because we tend to believe that such conversations will turn dull and boring after a couple of minutes, even if they have started charming and inspiring. These are the conclusions of a newly published study by US business schools Booth, Berkeley and Kellogg. In 5 laboratory experiments including almost 1.000 participants the surfacing message was clear: we should overcome our negative predictions and invest in these types of talks half an hour in any case where a bit of time is available.

Kardas/Schroeder/O´Brien: “Keep Talking: (Mis)Understanding the Hedonic Trajectory of Conversation”, in: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes”, 2022, vol. 123, Nr. 4, pg. 717-740.


From the practice:

Relationship is not to be built, let alone estabilshed within a few minutes. Period. A few minutes can be effectively used for launching a rhetorical appetizer or for dropping substantial key messages. To be memorized by a person whom you have not met before more time is needed, though. Only then you may reach a depth within the conversation which enables both interlocutors to get to know each other and to build up emotional connections.

Ok, some of you might respond now, but why should I do this? Because particularly these unexpected talks may enrich and inspire our daily routine, regardless whether you stay in touch afterwards or not. In times where so many people are confronted with so many challenges and lack so often positive news, I do believe in these talks as a good emotional strategy.

Learning from mistakes

Corrective feedback and consequences as recipe for success





We are learning from mistakes, aren´t we? Not necessarily because frequently we tend to fade out our failures and try to get back to routine without any much fuss.

According to a new study from Germany there are two parameter which neutralize this so-called “tune-out-effect” and make not before then learning possible: 1. Corrective feedback and sufficient time in a secure atmosphere to analyse what has gone wrong. 2. The concern about optional negative consequences – from image damage till loss of the job.

Comparing learning from mistakes with Learning from and with success the two approaches apparently are likewise effective.

Keith/Horvath/Klamar/Klese, „Failure to Learn From Failure Is Mitigated by Loss-Framing and Corrective Feedback: A Replication and Test of the Boundary Conditions of the Tune-Out-Effect“, in: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2022, vol.151, no. 8, e19-e25.

From the practice:

Now at least we have it in black and white: we must not assume that people are automatically interested in learn from their mistakes and develop further. And: a substantial motive for the concept of “Learning from mistakes” are the awareness and the knowledge that otherwise you will face personal consequences.

These results are to be noted and underlined in red particularly for those who shy away from any kind of negative consequences as reactions for periodical mistakes or even worse announce that there will be consequences and then don´t dare to execute them. That´s definitely not credibility.

Being the leader or superior you have to maneuver proactively. To hope that people pull themselves together on their own to get better, is mostly illusion.

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