Friday, 3 May 2013

Be Centre Stage

Have you wandered into a meeting room, made small talk with whoever is already there  and took a seat without thinking about it that much? Does it actually matter where we sit? Maybe it does.

Most people make the unconscious assumption that people in the centre are most important and therefore don’t tend to notice their mistakes as much or interrogate their contributions. This is known as the ‘Centre Stage Effect’.

It is covered in a 2005 paper from Berkeley which looks at a number of studies.  It tested the centre-stage effect using observational data from a real television show, The Weakest Link. Results show that players assigned at random to central positions are more likely to win the game than those in extreme positions.

There are a number of other similar lab based studies which come to the same conclusion, we fail to consciously look at and accurately assess the 'important' person in the centre. This leads to a biased (although favourable) assessment of whoever is in that central position.

Moral of the story? Want to get away with it? Get to the meeting early and grab the centre seat. The guys on either side will take brunt of any criticism flying about.

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