The Power of Expectations

 “Grape expectations” in The Boston Globe  is a fascinating article about expectations.  In a study, after people were told certain wines were more expensive.

The subjects consistently reported that the more expensive wines tasted better, even when they were actually identical to cheaper wines….

What they saw was the power of expectations. People expect expensive wines to taste better, and then their brains literally make it so. Wine lovers shouldn’t feel singled out: Antonio Rangel, the Caltech neuroeconomist who led the study, insists that he could have used a variety of items to get similar results, from bottled water to modern art….

The human brain, research suggests, isn’t built for objectivity. The brain doesn’t passively take in perceptions. Rather, brain regions involved in developing expectations can systematically alter the activity of areas involved in sensation. The cortex is “cooking the books,” adjusting its own inputs depending on what it expects….

Seems to me this has implications for those of us who judge, review, and otherwise determine that one thing is better than another.

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