Full text of communication scholar Sean Tiffee’s talk titled “Mind the Gap Between Perception and Reality” at TEDxLSCTomball conference.
Sean Tiffee – Communication scholar
I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a short one. I promise. What I want you to do is I want you to picture it in your mind, as I tell it, okay.
Bob went to the beach to play fetch with his dog as it. I told you it was short, but here’s my question for you when you pictured it in your mind, what kind of dog did Bob have? Now, what the research says is you probably pictured one of three dogs. Either one, you pictured your dog two, you pictured a Labrador retriever or three, you pictured a golden retriever.
And the reality is that kind of makes sense, right? Maybe you pictured your dog because, well, when you think dog, that’s the reference point you have for dog. But the research says if you didn’t picture yours, you probably pictured a Labrador retriever or a golden retriever. Why?
Well, kind of makes sense, because I told you that he went to the beach to play fetch with his dog and what a Labrador retrievers do; what a golden retrievers do? It’s right there in the name. They retrieve things. So if you went to play fetch, that’s what he brought.
There’s a concept in rhetorical studies called linguistic or listening fidelity. And what listening fidelity is it’s how close did I get with my message to what you pictured in your head? Now you pictured a golden retriever. Bob doesn’t have a golden retriever. Nope. Bob has a mixed breed. It’s half Wolf, half Chihuahua. It’s a Wolf Wawa. That’s what he’s got.
But you didn’t picture that. No, no, no, you didn’t. There’s a gap between what you pictured and what he’s got. There’s a gap between perception and between reality. I first started thinking about the gap and this idea of a gap.