How Sound Quality Impacts Whether You Believe What You Hear
23 August, 2022 by
How Sound Quality Impacts Whether You Believe What You Hear
Audality (R), Laura Krikorian

    We’ve all heard about how sound can be beneficial to your mental health, but a recent study suggests that good sound quality can be beneficial for people to understand new information.

    In a recent study by USC and the Australian National University, research showed that audio quality influences whether people believe what they hear and whether they trust the source of information. The findings show that when you make it difficult for people to process information, they are less likely to believe that it is credible.

The Experiment

Norbert Schwarz, a co-director of the Mind & Society Center at USC and co-author Eryn Newman conducted two experiments. The first one they used two YouTube conference videos and the second with NPR Science Friday interviews and scientists. In the first study, the scientists altered the sound quality on two videos on engineering and physics and trimmed them into shorter segments. They showed the segments to a group of 97 participants- one video with good sound quality and one video with poor sound.

To test the participant’s perception of the videos, they asked questions about the talks and the speaker and asked them to answer with a one to five rating, one being worst.

The Results:

“When the video was difficult to hear, viewers thought the talk was worse, the speaker less intelligent and less likeable and the research less important,” the scientists wrote.

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    The scientists repeated the first experiment but with two NPR Science Friday interviews, one with a geneticist and another with a physicist. This time there were 99 participants. The results mirrored the first experiment. Once they reduced the sound quality, the scientists in the interviews lost all credibility.

    The findings are significant amid the recent rise of fake news and public distrust in science, says USC’s Norbert Schwarz. When things are harder to process, it can influence how people perceive the information and its source. By having to work harder to listen to the speakers, people have a harder time processing the information, making it seem less credible.

How Sound Quality Impacts Whether You Believe What You Hear
Audality (R), Laura Krikorian 23 August, 2022
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