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  • So why do you think the rich should pay more in taxes?

  • Why did you buy the latest iPhone?

  • Why did you pick your current partner?

  • And why did so many people vote for Donald Trump?

  • What were the reasons, why did they do it?

  • So we ask this kind of question all the time,

  • and we expect to get an answer.

  • And when being asked, we expect ourselves to know the answer,

  • to simply tell why we did as we did.

  • But do we really know why?

  • So when you say that you prefer George Clooney to Tom Hanks,

  • due to his concern for the environment,

  • is that really true?

  • So you can be perfectly sincere and genuinely believe

  • that this is the reason that drives your choice,

  • but to me, it may still feel like something is missing.

  • As it stands, due to the nature of subjectivity,

  • it is actually very hard to ever prove that people are wrong about themselves.

  • So I'm an experimental psychologist,

  • and this is the problem we've been trying to solve in our lab.

  • So we wanted to create an experiment

  • that would allow us to challenge what people say about themselves,

  • regardless of how certain they may seem.

  • But tricking people about their own mind is hard.

  • So we turned to the professionals.

  • The magicians.

  • So they're experts at creating the illusion of a free choice.

  • So when they say, "Pick a card, any card,"

  • the only thing you know is that your choice is no longer free.

  • So we had a few fantastic brainstorming sessions

  • with a group of Swedish magicians,

  • and they helped us create a method

  • in which we would be able to manipulate the outcome of people's choices.

  • This way we would know when people are wrong about themselves,

  • even if they don't know this themselves.

  • So I will now show you a short movie showing this manipulation.

  • So it's quite simple.

  • The participants make a choice,

  • but I end up giving them the opposite.

  • And then we want to see: How did they react, and what did they say?

  • So it's quite simple, but see if you can spot the magic going on.

  • And this was shot with real participants, they don't know what's going on.

  • (Video) Petter Johansson: Hi, my name's Petter.

  • Woman: Hi, I'm Becka.

  • PJ: I'm going to show you pictures like this.

  • And you'll have to decide which one you find more attractive.

  • Becka: OK.

  • PJ: And then sometimes, I will ask you why you prefer that face.

  • Becka: OK.

  • PJ: Ready? Becka: Yeah.

  • PJ: Why did you prefer that one?

  • Becka: The smile, I think.

  • PJ: Smile.

  • Man: One on the left.

  • Again, this one just struck me.

  • Interesting shot.

  • Since I'm a photographer, I like the way it's lit and looks.

  • Petter Johansson: But now comes the trick.

  • (Video) Woman 1: This one.

  • PJ: So they get the opposite of their choice.

  • And let's see what happens.

  • Woman 2: Um ...

  • I think he seems a little more innocent than the other guy.

  • Man: The one on the left.

  • I like her smile and contour of the nose and face.

  • So it's a little more interesting to me, and her haircut.

  • Woman 3: This one.

  • I like the smirky look better.

  • PJ: You like the smirky look better?

  • (Laughter)

  • Woman 3: This one.

  • PJ: What made you choose him?

  • Woman 3: I don't know, he looks a little bit like the Hobbit.

  • (Laughter)

  • PJ: And what happens in the end

  • when I tell them the true nature of the experiment?

  • Yeah, that's it. I just have to ask a few questions.

  • Man: Sure.

  • PJ: What did you think of this experiment, was it easy or hard?

  • Man: It was easy.

  • PJ: During the experiments,

  • I actually switched the pictures three times.

  • Was this anything you noticed?

  • Man: No. I didn't notice any of that.

  • PJ: Not at all? Man: No.

  • Switching the pictures as far as ...

  • PJ: Yeah, you were pointing at one of them but I actually gave you the opposite.

  • Man: The opposite one. OK, when you --

  • No. Shows you how much my attention span was.

  • (Laughter)

  • PJ: Did you notice that sometimes during the experiment

  • I switched the pictures?

  • Woman 2: No, I did not notice that.

  • PJ: You were pointing at one, but then I gave you the other one.

  • No inclination of that happening?

  • Woman 2: No.

  • Woman 2: I did not notice.

  • (Laughs)

  • PJ: Thank you.

  • Woman 2: Thank you.

  • PJ: OK, so as you probably figured out now,

  • the trick is that I have two cards in each hand,

  • and when I hand one of them over,

  • the black one kind of disappears into the black surface on the table.

  • So using pictures like this,

  • normally not more than 20 percent of the participants detect these tries.

  • And as you saw in the movie,

  • when in the end we explain what's going on,

  • they're very surprised and often refuse to believe the trick has been made.

  • So this shows that this effect is quite robust and a genuine effect.

  • But if you're interested in self-knowledge, as I am,

  • the more interesting bit is,

  • OK, so what did they say when they explained these choices?

  • So we've done a lot of analysis

  • of the verbal reports in these experiments.

  • And this graph simply shows

  • that if you compare what they say in a manipulated trial

  • with a nonmanipulated trial,

  • that is when they explain a normal choice they've made

  • and one where we manipulated the outcome,

  • we find that they are remarkably similar.

  • So they are just as emotional, just as specific,

  • and they are expressed with the same level of certainty.

  • So the strong conclusion to draw from this

  • is that if there are no differences

  • between a real choice and a manipulated choice,

  • perhaps we make things up all the time.

  • But we've also done studies

  • where we try to match what they say with the actual faces.

  • And then we find things like this.

  • So here, this male participant, he preferred the girl to the left,

  • he ended up with the one to the right.

  • And then, he explained his choice like this.

  • "She is radiant.

  • I would rather have approached her at the bar than the other one.

  • And I like earrings."

  • And whatever made him choose the girl on the left to begin with,

  • it can't have been the earrings,

  • because they were actually sitting on the girl on the right.

  • So this is a clear example of a post hoc construction.

  • So they just explained the choice afterwards.

  • So what this experiment shows is,

  • OK, so if we fail to detect that our choices have been changed,

  • we will immediately start to explain them in another way.

  • And what we also found

  • is that the participants often come to prefer the alternative,

  • that they were led to believe they liked.

  • So if we let them do the choice again,

  • they will now choose the face they had previously rejected.

  • So this is the effect we call "choice blindness."

  • And we've done a number of different studies --

  • we've tried consumer choices,

  • choices based on taste and smell and even reasoning problems.

  • But what you all want to know is of course

  • does this extend also to more complex, more meaningful choices?

  • Like those concerning moral and political issues.

  • So the next experiment, it needs a little bit of a background.

  • So in Sweden, the political landscape

  • is dominated by a left-wing and a right-wing coalition.

  • And the voters may move a little bit between the parties within each coalition,

  • but there is very little movement between the coalitions.

  • And before each elections,

  • the newspapers and the polling institutes

  • put together what they call "an election compass"

  • which consists of a number of dividing issues

  • that sort of separates the two coalitions.

  • Things like if tax on gasoline should be increased

  • or if the 13 months of paid parental leave

  • should be split equally between the two parents

  • in order to increase gender equality.

  • So, before the last Swedish election,

  • we created an election compass of our own.

  • So we walked up to people in the street

  • and asked if they wanted to do a quick political survey.

  • So first we had them state their voting intention

  • between the two coalitions.

  • Then we asked them to answer 12 of these questions.

  • They would fill in their answers,

  • and we would ask them to discuss,

  • so OK, why do you think tax on gas should be increased?

  • And we'd go through the questions.

  • Then we had a color coded template

  • that would allow us to tally their overall score.

  • So this person would have one, two, three, four

  • five, six, seven, eight, nine scores to the left,

  • so he would lean to the left, basically.

  • And in the end, we also had them fill in their voting intention once more.

  • But of course, there was also a trick involved.

  • So first, we walked up to people,

  • we asked them about their voting intention

  • and then when they started filling in,

  • we would fill in a set of answers going in the opposite direction.

  • We would put it under the notepad.

  • And when we get the questionnaire,

  • we would simply glue it on top of the participant's own answer.

  • So there, it's gone.

  • And then we would ask about each of the questions:

  • How did you reason here?

  • And they'll state the reasons,

  • together we will sum up their overall score.

  • And in the end, they will state their voting intention again.

  • So what we find first of all here,

  • is that very few of these manipulations are detected.

  • And they're not detected in the sense that they realize,

  • "OK, you must have changed my answer,"

  • it was more the case that,

  • "OK, I must've misunderstood the question the first time I read it.

  • Can I please change it?"

  • And even if a few of these manipulations were changed,

  • the overall majority was missed.

  • So we managed to switch 90 percent of the participants' answers

  • from left to right, right to left, their overall profile.

  • And what happens then when they are asked to motivate their choices?

  • And here we find much more interesting verbal reports

  • than compared to the faces.

  • People say things like this, and I'll read it to you.

  • So, "Large-scale governmental surveillance of email and internet traffic

  • ought to be permissible as means to combat international crime and terrorism."

  • "So you agree to some extent with this statement." "Yes."

  • "So how did you reason here?"

  • "Well, like, as it is so hard to get at international crime and terrorism,

  • I think there should be those kinds of tools."

  • And then the person remembers an argument from the newspaper in the morning.

  • "Like in the newspaper today,

  • it said they can like, listen to mobile phones from prison,

  • if a gang leader tries to continue his crimes from inside.

  • And I think it's madness that we have so little power

  • that we can't stop those things

  • when we actually have the possibility to do so."

  • And then there's a little bit back and forth in the end:

  • "I don't like that they have access to everything I do,

  • but I still think it's worth it in the long run."

  • So, if you didn't know that this person

  • just took part in a choice blindness experiment,

  • I don't think you would question

  • that this is the true attitude of that person.

  • And what happens in the end, with the voting intention?

  • What we find -- that one is also clearly affected by the questionnaire.

  • So we have 10 participants

  • shifting from left to right or from right to left.

  • We have another 19 that go from clear voting intention

  • to being uncertain.

  • Some go from being uncertain to clear voting intention.

  • And then there is a number of participants staying uncertain throughout.

  • And that number is interesting

  • because if you look at what the polling institutes say