People are almost 30% more likely to believe a product claim to be true if it comes with a graph, according to a paper published by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab in the journal Public Understanding of Science.
The co-authors, Aner Tal and Brian Wansink, had two groups read a paragraph extolling the virtues of a new medication, but one group was supplied with a complementary but superfluous graph. When asked, “Does the medication really reduce illness?” more than 96% of those who saw the graph believed the medication worked; 67.7% of the other group thought so.
“Sometimes a graph is just a graph!” wrote Tal, and yet we have a tendency to trust information that simply looks scientific. You can look at this two ways: Yes, you should always scrutinize what you read. But consider it another great reason to keep that pie chart in your PowerPoint deck or sales pitch.
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Do you normally use charts and graphs in your presentations and pitches? Why, or why not? Let us know by commenting below.