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Notes from the User Testing Files: The Sheep-Goat Effect

Recently, I referenced  something quite obscure – the “sheep-goat effect”. The reason I say  “quite obscure”  is that no one had any idea what it was. And I spoke to literally scores of people. The “sheep-goat effect” was coined in ESP experiments whereby people who believed in ESP did significantly better than those who did not believe in ESP on ESP-type tests. The believers were called “sheep” and the non-believers, “goats”. The “sheep-goat effect” is therefore used (apparently by only a very small handful of people aside from me, if at all), to illustrate that the belief in something can have a causal effect on that event happening.

So why was I making this reference in the first place? Because the sheep-goat effect goes beyond ESP tests–it can be a very powerful concept in marketing.  This is especially true if your product or service is not widely accepted, is novel or is subject to public skepticism (like ESP).

Marketers love to gather feedback – by way of surveys.  Just Google how to create a good marketing survey and you’ll run across suggestions regarding target groups and sampling. Here are a few you’ll find regarding target group: Continue reading Notes from the User Testing Files: The Sheep-Goat Effect