Monday, August 06, 2012

Reality Distortion Field (RDF) discovered.

Here's what Wikipedia tells us about Steve Jobs' RDF:

Reality distortion field (RDF) is a term coined by Bud Tribble at Apple Computer in 1981, to describe company co-founder Steve Jobs' charisma. The RDF was said by Andy Hertzfeld to be Steve Jobs' ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence. RDF was said to distort an audience's sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task at hand was possible.

Is RDF real? Yes, seems the the answer. According to an MRI study conducted at Aarhus University in Denmark,
We find that recipients’ assumptions about senders’ charismatic abilities have important effects on their executive network. Most notably, the Christian participants deactivated the frontal network consisting of the medial and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex bilaterally in response to speakers who they believed had healing abilities. An independent analysis across subjects revealed that this deactivation predicted the Christian participants’ subsequent ratings of the speakers’ charisma and experience of God’s presence during prayer.

In summary, interaction with a perceived charismatic person inhibits critical thinking. Furthermore, once the charismatic person becomes an authority figure ("genius"), the effect is combined with people's natural tendency to conform.

tags: psychology, control, communications, innovation, effect, cognition

Source: Uffe Schjoedt, et. al. The power of charisma—perceived charisma inhibits the frontal executive network of believers in intercessory prayer. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci (2011) 6 (1): 119-127. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsq023 First published online: March 12, 2010.

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