THINKING FORWARD – Ideas for your work from MIT Sloan School of Management


Ideas for your work from MIT Sloan School of Management | Office of Communications

+ THREE INSIGHTS FOR THE WEEK November 14 – November 20, 2021

1. When it comes to political persuasion, a new study suggests that video is not much more influential than text.

An experiment conducted by MIT Sloan professor David Rand and colleagues found that video clips had only a modestly larger impact on political persuasion than the written word.

“Technological advances have created new opportunities for people to falsify video footage, but we still know surprisingly little about how individuals process political video versus text,” co-researcher Chloe Wittenberg told MIT News.

The study, which comprised a pair of survey experiments involving 7,609 Americans, sought to make a distinction between the credibility of videos and their persuasiveness. An audience might find a video believable, but their attitudes might not change in response. Alternatively, a video might not seem credible but still alter viewers’ attitudes or behavior.

Overall, the results showed that video performed somewhat better than written text on the believability front, but had a smaller relative advantage when it came to persuasion.

Said co-researcher Adam Berinsky, an MIT professor of political science, “Our study shows that just because video is more believable doesn’t mean that it can change people’s minds.”


2. MIT Sloan professor Sinan Aral won the Digital Thinking Award, which honors a researcher who “sheds the most original and valuable light on the new digital reality of business,” at the 2021 Thinkers50 Awards.

The biennial competition, which culminated in a virtual ceremony on Nov. 16, recognizes business leaders from around the world.

Aral, the director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, “forensically and persuasively gets to the reality inside social media and tech,” according to the award citation. His recent research topics include social media, which was the topic of his 2020 book, “The Hype Machine,” and the spread of misinformation.

Six others with ties to MIT Sloan were named to the 2021 Thinkers50 Ranking of the top 50 management thinkers. They include:

Erica Dhawan, MBA ’12, an expert in collaboration, communication, and teamwork.

Hal Gregersen, a senior lecturer in leadership and innovation.

Andrew McAfee, the co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, and Erik Brynjolfsson, PhD ’91, a Stanford professor and director of the Stanford Digital Economy Lab.

Geoffrey Parker, PhD ’98, a professor at Dartmouth College, and Boston University professorMarshall Van Alstyne, PhD ’98, both visiting scholars at MIT IDE.


3. A visionary boss helped Kelsey McRichards, MBA ’10, rise through the ranks in health care.

“I had a male VP who hired many women in their 30s who then started families,” she recalled in a recent Q&A. “One of my promotions happened while I was on maternity leave. I came back to a new job as a new mom, and no one blinked an eye. The sense of empowerment among the women on the team, both those with and without children, was incredible.”

That’s not to say McRichards, now owner and CEO of Honest Property Management, didn’t encounter bias in her career climb.

“I made it to age 30 with words coming out of my mouth like ‘Does sexism still exist?’” McRichards said. Then came a job where she crossed paths with a cohort of male co-workers and was told by her manager she wasn’t likeable. “I was only looking for 1950s sexism, when the truth is that gender bias is still alive and well,” she said. “It’s just much more subtle now.”

Content from the: MIT Sloan Office of Communications Building E90, 9th Floor 1 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142

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