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A Myth is a myth is a … truth?

“Only 7% of communication relies on the actual words that are spoken.”

This is the Mehrabian myth. It’s a widespread piece of “conventional wisdom” that gets repeated over and over again.

Which doesn’t make it true.

In fact, it’s wrong (at least in the common representation cited above).

Why then do so many people believe the myth?

Part of the reason is that it gets repeated. Over. And over. Again. Unfortunately, repetition increases the perceived truth of an information. It turns out that people are more likely to believe a statement when they hear it repeatedly. And that’s regardless of whether they’re dumb or super smart. Even smart and critical thinkers are more likely to believe a statement when they hear it repeatedly.

Let me repeat this: Even smart and critical thinkers are more likely to believe a statement when they hear it repeatedly.

Of course … advertisers love this. Propagandists, too. That’s why they keep repeating their statements over and over again (and over and over and over and over …). They intuitively understand that drip by drip it’ll increase the likelihood that people believe it (within certain limits, of course).

Which doesn’t make their statements any more true.

It’s important to keep that in mind when reading a message repeated frequently: No, a repetition doesn’t make it any more true.

The Mehrabian myth is still a myth.

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