Is the “Hi Howdy” open house the wrong way to go?

The Frontal Cortex has an interesting piece on the “rewarding properties” of information (see below) that suggest all of us might be going the wrong way with the all-too-common introductory – or “hi howdy” – public meeting.

The experiment described in the post suggests that people will respond best to meetings that have more information, particularly information about what’s coming down the pike.

Yet how often as coalitionists have we felt compelled to acquiesce to engagement processes that start with a meeting that is just an aggregation of very little information and a meet-and-greet with a study team – or that have very basic update meetings at milestones.

One interpretation of the experiment, however, is that we would better serve our target audiences’ needs – and information “pleasure zones” – if we ladled on the information ’til they’re overfull, particularly if that information helps them anticipate or predict what’s going to happen next in the engagement process.

Judge for yourself:

“Over at Mind Matters, Chadrick Lane reviews a fascinating experiment that revealed the rewarding properties of information, regardless of whether or not the information actually led to more rewards:

In the experimental design, monkeys were placed in front of a computer screen and were trained to perform a saccade task, in which they learned to direct their gaze at specific areas. The monkeys were first given the option of choosing between one of two colored targets. One of these targets would give the monkey advance information about its future reward. The advance information came in the form of visual cues, one representing a large reward and the other a small reward. Choosing the other initial colored target revealed cues that were randomly associated with reward size, thus possessing no informative value. After only a few days of training, the monkeys showed a clear preference for choosing the informative colored target.

The researchers then tested to see when the monkeys wanted the information. In this scenario, the monkeys were again initially presented with two colored targets. One of these targets had informative value while the other did not. The difference was that the monkeys always received informative cues just before their rewards. The choice each monkey had to make was whether to see an earlier informative cue. Despite always having a delayed informative cue, regardless of which initial target they selected, the monkeys preferred to have advance information as soon as possible. Like high-school seniors waiting on their SAT results, the monkeys wanted to know, and they wanted to know right now.

More via The Frontal Cortex.)

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