Technology opens up a world of knowledge
to anyone with an internet connection.
Apps help us learn a language.
Online courses help us get better at our jobs.
How do we decide which brands to choose,
and how do our choices affect performance?
New research by MIT Sloan's Renée Richardson Gosline
So past studies have established this effect called
the marketing placebo effect, which is very much in line
with medical placebo effects.
If you have a higher status brand associated
with a product, you will experience higher performance.
When people were asked to do cognitive tasks using
a pen emblazoned with the MIT logo,
they felt more intelligent and performed better than the pen
without the logo.
But Gosline's latest research finds
that when it comes to learning, premium brands may
What we were surprised to find, actually,
is that in a variety of learning contexts,
these placebo effects work in the reverse direction.
There's this paradox where people
are feeling this confidence but performing worse.
Does this mean that the promise of digital learning
and training is squandered?
When we gain access to these rarefied air sort of brands,
we need to ensure that they're working for us as tools,
that the dynamic between our brands and ourselves
is one where we dominate, where we are not subordinate,
and where we don't feel like we're somehow gaining entrance
to a place that we either don't deserve or don't belong.
The internet offers unprecedented access
to educational opportunities, but Gosline
says more must be done to examine
the unconscious barriers that brand status creates.
The recommendation here is that leaders in organizations
and premium brands themselves need to really
be more welcoming to people of different sorts
so that when, for instance, someone gains admission
to a high-status university through an online program,
they feel that they truly have gained access.