Business Briefs: BS Business Jargon, Zoom Fatigue & Social Norms in Marketing

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Welcome to Business Briefs! The world of academic publications features fascinating findings from real-world experiments in business and the marketplace. Here are some key takeaways and applicable nuggets of knowledge that may be helpful for your business.

The Truth About Corporate Jargon

You probably know someone who regularly drops gems like ‘intrinsically productive world-class systems’ and ‘synergistically foster an expanded array of strategic theme areas.’

It turns out that when they use those phrases, they’re saying something about themselves…and what they’re saying about themselves isn’t good. 

Two researchers, one from Ohio’s very own Kent State, conducted a couple of experiments on 200 subjects. The first experiment asked the subjects to read statements and rate them in terms of how profound the statements seemed to be. Some of the statements were truly meaningful, other statements were…well, to integrate the paper’s title, the other statements were jargonized bullsh*t. 

The subjects were also asked to complete tests that measured creative problem-solving skills, as well as verbal analogy skills and memory recall. 

The researchers found that the subjects who found profound messages in the meaningless statements were more likely to overestimate their own creative problem-solving abilities. In fact, not only were they overconfident in their abilities, but they were actually worse at creative problem-solving than the subjects who could more successfully discern meaningful from meaningless statements. 

Moral of the story? Beware the doublespeaker, they don’t know what they’re talking about. 

Read more here

*These particular examples came from a generator hereHere’s another good one. 

Bullshit Receptivity, Problem Solving, and Metacognition: Simply the BS, Not Better than all the Rest – Tim George and Marta K. Mielicki, Thinking & Reasoning

Zoom Fatigue? Maybe Not…

About mid-pandemic, there was something called Zoom Fatigue that was widely observed. Zoom Fatigue was described as a profound sense of misery associated with having to constantly broadcast oneself online in endless meetings. 

Well, things have apparently gotten better. According to a survey of 2,767 employed American adults, 74% say they are perfectly fine with the amount of time currently spent on video calls. The remaining 26% are worn out by it. 

That’s a big improvement from the 2020 survey, where 37% were worn out. 

It would have been interesting to learn whether the employees got used to video conferencing, or if employers decreased the video conference obligations. But those sorts of queries were outside the scope of the survey. 

Read more here

As Telework Continues for Many U.S. Workers, No Sign of Widespread ‘Zoom Fatigue’ – Ruth Igielnik, Pew Research Center

Norms & Marketing

A recently published literature review shines some light on the impact of social norms on consumer behavior. Social norms is a term that refers to what’s normally valued in your culture. So, for example, saying “bless you” is considered a normal response to a a peer sneezing. As opposed to saying something like ”STOP IT!” That would be outside normal behavior. 

The norms are used in marketing messages to influence behavior. If you’ve looked at your energy bill, it often compare your use to “normal” energy-saving user profiles. That’s an example. Some highlights from the literature review:

  • Effective social norming messages describe normal behavior rather than recommend it
  • Effective social norming messages highlight benefits to others
  • Effective social norming messages emphasize consumer choice
  • Social norming messages are especially effective for donations and expensive things

Read more here

The Influence of Social Norms on Consumer Behavior: A Meta-Analysis – Vladimir Melnyk, François A. Carrillat, and Valentyna Melnyk, Journal of Marketing