So think about that next time you listen to a presenter and hear their position. Now check to see whether you are listening with an open mind. Ask — Is it the position and evidence the presenter is marshaling for their position that bothers you, or is it the biased assumptions you have made about the group you think they represent that upsets and filters your opinion. The question is can you separate the message from the messenger?
So to get an answer I researched some studies from psychological literature.When the information seems to be coming from or favoring the other side, all bets are off. Here is one study that points out our inability to listen with objectivity:
In a famous 1950s psychology experiment, researchers showed students a film of a Dartmouth-Princeton football game in which officials made a series of obvious bone head calls against one team. Asked to make their own assessments of the calls, students who attended the offending team’s college reported seeing half as many illegal plays as did students from the college team that got the bad calls. Controversy was generated over what actually took place during the game. Basically, there was disagreement between the two schools as to what had happened during the game. A questionnaire designed to get reactions to the game and to learn something of the climate of opinion was administered at each school and the same motion picture of the game was shown to a sample of undergraduate at each school, followed by another questionnaire. Results indicate that the “game” was actually many different games and that each version of the events that transpired was just as “real” to a particular person as other versions were to other people. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
So if you unpack the experiment it is saying that our perceptions of the same event our biased by our group affiliations. Now the question arises if the same phenomena happens when listening to and experiencing a presentation from a speaker who is identified with a group you don’t trust or see as credible?