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Expectation bias
Yahzi
post Jul 31 2014, 22:26
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About " expectation bias ". Surely I can not be alone in having desperately lusted after a piece of kit, read rave reviews about it, scrutinised the impeccable technical specs, and then, wallet in hand, having gone through the formality of actually listening to it? And then decided not to buy it?
I appreciate the whole ABX, double blind, slightly deaf, What HiFI and Stereophile brainwashed, status angst kind of thang but OMG, surely it can not be THAT difficult to be honest with yourself?

Or have I missed something?
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saratoga
post Jul 31 2014, 22:37
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QUOTE (Yahzi @ Jul 31 2014, 17:26) *
I appreciate the whole ABX, double blind, slightly deaf, What HiFI and Stereophile brainwashed, status angst kind of thang but OMG, surely it can not be THAT difficult to be honest with yourself?


I don't see how someone on the internet can tell you how good you are at understanding your own perception. You have to test that out for yourself.

On average though, most people are not great at it, at least not without considerable practice.
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Yahzi
post Jul 31 2014, 22:48
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Jul 31 2014, 23:37) *
QUOTE (Yahzi @ Jul 31 2014, 17:26) *
I appreciate the whole ABX, double blind, slightly deaf, What HiFI and Stereophile brainwashed, status angst kind of thang but OMG, surely it can not be THAT difficult to be honest with yourself?


I don't see how someone on the internet can tell you how good you are at understanding your own perception. You have to test that out for yourself.

On average though, most people are not great at it, at least not without considerable practice.


I've always wondered, because it seems to work both ways. People often say you expect to hear differences and you do. But on a few occasions I've experienced the opposite reaction while having high expectations on a piece of expensive equipment. Often times I've found expensive equipment isn't what I preferred, despite the building anticipation leading up to the audition.

Maybe there is a mechanism that I don't understand about the subconscious or something. Unless it's all random ... but who knows. I'm not a brain expert.

This post has been edited by Yahzi: Jul 31 2014, 22:49
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Aldem
post Jul 31 2014, 23:22
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The same works for reviews too. I never read reviews about video games. I go check some gameplay on youtube and if it catch my eye, I buy it, no matter what's the score it was ''given''.
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castleofargh
post Jul 31 2014, 23:31
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obviously the "fun" part of bias is that it's not the same for everyone. else we would pretend bias is actual reality and be happy with it.
you just don't put enough "faith" in the power of money. tongue.gif
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andy o
post Aug 1 2014, 08:06
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QUOTE (Yahzi @ Jul 31 2014, 14:48) *
I've always wondered, because it seems to work both ways. People often say you expect to hear differences and you do. But on a few occasions I've experienced the opposite reaction while having high expectations on a piece of expensive equipment. Often times I've found expensive equipment isn't what I preferred, despite the building anticipation leading up to the audition.

Maybe there is a mechanism that I don't understand about the subconscious or something. Unless it's all random ... but who knows. I'm not a brain expert.

I think you misunderstand what most skeptics mean when they invoke expectation bias to question someone's anecdotal experience. The point is not to assert that you're fooling yourself, but that it's very possible, thus scientific testing (where expectation bias cannot be a factor) needs to be done, or else the anecdote is up in the air and nothing can really be learned with any confidence. Blinding is probably the most common way to weed out expectation bias.

Also often misunderstood is the placebo effect, of which expectation bias is a big part. Most people seem to think that if the anecdote results in something you thought wasn't true, then it cannot be placebo. But the thing with placebo is that you cannot control it. Thus you sooner or later will run into that "I was a skeptic, but then I tried it" person who can't possibly be fooling themselves cause they see themselves as skeptical. In fact, the more people think they're immune to placebo for any reason the more I get suspicious.

This post has been edited by andy o: Aug 1 2014, 08:06
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skamp
post Aug 1 2014, 09:41
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QUOTE (Yahzi @ Jul 31 2014, 23:48) *
surely it can not be THAT difficult to be honest with yourself?


There are many reasons why that could be difficult for someone. Ask a shrink.

QUOTE (Yahzi @ Jul 31 2014, 23:48) *
But on a few occasions I've experienced the opposite reaction while having high expectations on a piece of expensive equipment. Often times I've found expensive equipment isn't what I preferred, despite the building anticipation leading up to the audition.


Like you said yourself right there: expectations were high, perhaps too high for the price; or perhaps the equipment didn't look high-end enough.


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xnor
post Aug 1 2014, 13:12
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The Dishonesty of Sighted Listening Tests

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In other words, if you want to obtain an accurate and reliable measure of how the audio product truly sounds, the listening test must be done blind. It’s time the audio industry grow up and acknowledge this fact, if it wants to retain the trust and respect of consumers.


This post has been edited by xnor: Aug 1 2014, 13:14


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JabbaThePrawn
post Aug 1 2014, 14:06
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I'd assume expectation bias works both ways, whether you want the more expensive item to be better or whether you want it to be worse.
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Ethyl's Fred
post Aug 1 2014, 18:43
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An excellent demonstration of expectation bias is in a current review in Sound and Vision magazine:
QUOTE
One expects the cheapest receivers to sound nasty...Its balance of frequencies was pleasingly dark-toned, with a mercifully rolled-off top end. At this price range, that isn’t a bad thing. A more detailed top end would be one of the benefits of buying a higher-priced model,


Of course the test bench shows that the frequency response is as flat as any other decently designed solid state amplifier (including in the supposedly "rolled-off top end"). But since it is inexpensive it *must* have some sonic differences from the "high-end" equipment.

I'm always sad to see what the successor of Stereo Review has become. If only Julian Hirsch could have lived forever.

This post has been edited by Ethyl's Fred: Aug 1 2014, 18:44
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4season
post Aug 2 2014, 00:35
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Don't underestimate the power of the signal-processing unit between your ears! The thing to realize is that folks do hear differences, or at least their brains tell them that they do. All we're trying to do here is apply a bit of scientific rigor in order to bypass a lot of that internal signal processing.

I suppose that some folks stubbornly cling to their odd notions because there's ego and self-worth mixed in there. Perhaps they fear that the truth just isn't good enough, as they strive for a sound which is always awesome and delightful, no matter what their state of mind at the time (wouldn't that be nice).

However having said that, I think it's still okay to buy deluxe audio gear if you can simply enjoy it for what it is, admittedly kind of a tricky thing to do.
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Yahzi
post Aug 2 2014, 07:45
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I just can't see why one can't be honest with themselves when listening to audio gear. I mean, sitting down, relaxing and just listening to the gear without brand bias affecting the outcome. Not all people care about brands or looks.

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Yahzi
post Aug 2 2014, 07:51
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QUOTE ("4season")
Don't underestimate the power of the signal-processing unit between your ears! The thing to realize is that folks do hear differences, or at least their brains tell them that they do. All we're trying to do here is apply a bit of scientific rigor in order to bypass a lot of that internal signal processing.


So there may be biases that someone is unconsciously aware of? huh.gif
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lvqcl
post Aug 2 2014, 08:33
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QUOTE (Yahzi @ Aug 2 2014, 10:45) *
Not all people care about brands or looks.


Care to provide a proof?
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Thad E Ginathom
post Aug 2 2014, 10:09
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Why can't we be honest with ourselves? Ask a marketing man: they know how to manipulate our inability!

But it isn't really a question of honest or dishonest. That is far too harsh, and also implies some sort of concious action of dishonesty, which is the exact opposite of the truth. It is true that some people are just brand or price-label snobs, which is one of the easiest things to comprehend: much of the rest goes on below the surface of our minds. It is challenging to understand, and, even when understood, like the effect of many illusions, we are still subject to it.

My motto: The most important cables are the ones inside your head. Of course, it is not just about cables.

People tell me trust my ears. I think I should also discover why I shouldn't. The people who insist on this ear trust seem to think that the process stops at the eardrum. I don't understand why they fail to think that what then happens inside the head is just as interesting, and perhaps more important than the equipment we are ogling.


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JabbaThePrawn
post Aug 2 2014, 10:34
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QUOTE (Yahzi @ Aug 2 2014, 07:45) *
I just can't see why one can't be honest with themselves when listening to audio gear. I mean, sitting down, relaxing and just listening to the gear without brand bias affecting the outcome. Not all people care about brands or looks.

Hmm... I do have to say that, when it comes to loudspeakers, looks do come into it a bit for me. They are normally required to be visible right in front of you. Okay, there are some omnis that don't have to be so visible, but they are few and far between.

Other components can be hidden away if necessary.
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JabbaThePrawn
post Aug 2 2014, 10:38
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QUOTE (4season @ Aug 2 2014, 00:35) *
Don't underestimate the power of the signal-processing unit between your ears! The thing to realize is that folks do hear differences, or at least their brains tell them that they do. All we're trying to do here is apply a bit of scientific rigor in order to bypass a lot of that internal signal processing.

I suppose that some folks stubbornly cling to their odd notions because there's ego and self-worth mixed in there. Perhaps they fear that the truth just isn't good enough, as they strive for a sound which is always awesome and delightful, no matter what their state of mind at the time (wouldn't that be nice).

However having said that, I think it's still okay to buy deluxe audio gear if you can simply enjoy it for what it is, admittedly kind of a tricky thing to do.

Also, don't underestimate the vagaries of the signal chain from ear to brain. Some days, depending on mood and/or health, it's almost impossible to enjoy music. Some days, everything sounds better than usual.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 2 2014, 12:07
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QUOTE (Yahzi @ Aug 2 2014, 02:51) *
QUOTE ("4season")
Don't underestimate the power of the signal-processing unit between your ears! The thing to realize is that folks do hear differences, or at least their brains tell them that they do. All we're trying to do here is apply a bit of scientific rigor in order to bypass a lot of that internal signal processing.


So there may be biases that someone is unconsciously aware of? huh.gif



Joke, right?

IMO understanding that there is a part of your brain that you have very little control over that influences your thoughts and behavior is the beginning of wisdom about yourself. It happens as early as the pre-teen years in some people. I ugess some people never get it. Kinda life-changing!
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xnor
post Aug 2 2014, 14:25
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You may want to read up on
Cognitive_bias and take a look at the really long List_of_cognitive_biases.
QUOTE
Cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.



Also interesting: Cognitive_bias_mitigation
QUOTE
A large body of evidence has established that a defining characteristic of cognitive biases is that they manifest automatically and unconsciously over a wide range of human reasoning, so even those aware of the existence of the phenomenon are unable to detect, let alone mitigate, their manifestation via awareness only.


This post has been edited by xnor: Aug 2 2014, 14:30


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4season
post Aug 2 2014, 15:50
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QUOTE (Yahzi @ Aug 2 2014, 00:45) *
I just can't see why one can't be honest with themselves when listening to audio gear. I mean, sitting down, relaxing and just listening to the gear without brand bias affecting the outcome. Not all people care about brands or looks.


Easier said than done?

Some folks devote a significant chunk of their lives striving to simply experience the world as it is without constantly drowning it in some internal dialog. The practice is called Zen...
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Yahzi
post Aug 2 2014, 15:52
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QUOTE (xnor @ Aug 2 2014, 15:25) *
You may want to read up on
Cognitive_bias and take a look at the really long List_of_cognitive_biases.
QUOTE
Cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.



Also interesting: Cognitive_bias_mitigation
QUOTE
A large body of evidence has established that a defining characteristic of cognitive biases is that they manifest automatically and unconsciously over a wide range of human reasoning, so even those aware of the existence of the phenomenon are unable to detect, let alone mitigate, their manifestation via awareness only.



But these internal biases will also remain if not sighted?

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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 2 2014, 16:00
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QUOTE (Yahzi @ Aug 2 2014, 10:52) *
But these internal biases will also remain if not sighted?


Sure they remain, but if there is nothing to base them on, then they tend to cancel themselves out.

Case in point is ABX testing.

I know everything I want to know about A and B, but I know nothing about X except that it is either A or B but generally not both.

Let's say I own A, and my enemy owns B. That's all fine and good but how do I use that information when I pick X? It could be A or B but I can only guess or actually hear a difference that identifies X. If I correctly identify X then I have proved that I am hearing a difference, but my preference is irrelevant since ABX is not a preference test.
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4season
post Aug 2 2014, 16:01
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QUOTE (Yahzi @ Aug 2 2014, 08:52) *
But these internal biases will also remain if not sighted?


But they'll no longer favor one component over another except by sonics alone.
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xnor
post Aug 2 2014, 16:42
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Have you read "The Dishonesty of Sighted Listening Tests" I posted above?

When employees of a company test speakers and some of these speakers are made by their company, they rate these speakers as better sounding, even if they do not sound better. They can try as hard as they want to ignore the brand on the speaker - it still influences their decision.
An employee of the competitor might rank their own speakers as better sounding, even if they try to rank them objectively.

Now you put these speakers behind an audibly transparent curtain. The testers still hear exactly the same physical sound waves but cannot associate the speakers with the brands. The result is that they now hear how the speaker truly sounds.

This post has been edited by xnor: Aug 2 2014, 16:43


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JabbaThePrawn
post Aug 2 2014, 18:23
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I read recently about a German company (possibly T+A, I can't remember) whose set up a blind testing system for speakers, based on their theory that audio memory lasts seconds, not minutes or hours.

Behind the acoustically transparent curtain, they have the machinery necessary to physically remove one speaker and replace it with another in seconds, so they are all placed as optimally as possible in the room as each design requires. Overkill for a domestic comparison, but an interesting approach.
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