Proof That Women ARE Smarter?


With news swirling about the probable demise of embattled BP CEO Tony Hayward, one neuromarketing firm, Innerscope Research, has data they say show that even weeks ago women found Hayward less believable than men did. This video tracks the biometric response of viewers to the BP “Apology” ad:

The reactions charted on the screen are Innerscope’s tracking of viewer engagement as determined by heart rate, sweat, and other biometric measures. Low levels, the firm says, indicate low viewer engagement and/or a negative reaction.

When Tony “I want my life back” Hayward says he is “deeply sorry,” the reactions by gender diverge widely, with women exhibiting a far stronger negative reaction. Other images, like shots of BP workers, show similar levels of emotional impact for both men and women.

Women’s Intuition?

Are women really better judges of character? If you buy into Innerscope’s biometric analysis, it would appear so. Despite past evidence that Hayward was largely indifferent to the human impact of the BP oil spill in the Gulf, men had a slight positive reaction to Hayward’s apology while women, according to Innerscope, were turned off by it.

If BP’s mostly male board of directors had a few more women on it, would the smarmy Hayward have been sent packing long ago? Or perhaps not been put in the CEO position to begin with?

Other coverage of the Innerscope video: Are women tougher on BP? by Lisa van der Pool (Boston Business Journal), Are Men More Sympathetic Than Women to BP CEO Tony Hayward? by Ariel Schwartz (FastCompany).

  1. Evan Hunerberg says

    Innerscope is only monitoring “viewer engagement.” Their claims of measuring affective valence are misleading. In fact, “heart rate, sweat, and other biometric measures” are usually associated more with fear and fight or flight responses than positive emotions like trust.

    Considering that this video demonstrates stimulation, we should analyze it a little differently:

    First dip: “The gulf spill is a tragedy,” etc — Snooze

    First divergence: Not Tony’s appearance, but “BP has taken full responsibility” — Western culture places a lot of emphasis on masculine responsibility for individual actions; this might be why the guys are more interested.

    Next change: “largest environmental response” — Women are always more concerned about the environment. Men just want to dominate it, and couldn’t care less about abstractly protecting it.

    Dual dip: “more than two million, [lots of numbers]” — We can’t imagine these numbers, so we zone out.

    Mutual rise: “working to protect the shoreline” — Working and protect are probably key emotive words. We also see a lot of humans here, which typically conjure relative excitement.

    Small dip: “any cost to taxpayers” — Taxes, bureaucracy? Boring.

    The big divergence: “I’m deeply sorry” — At first, both groups are disinterested in the bird washing shot. Then women continue to care less about the apology. The men, however, might get a rise from seeing this oil tycoon submit himself in despondence.

    The Return: “all the volunteers” — Shots of people and mention of volunteers appear to regain the women’s attention (in humanitarian ideals) while the men flat line.

    Innerscope, like all these neuromarketing data collectors, is getting ahead of itself when it talks about positive affect. Fortunately, it’s just as interesting and useful to understand why people get excited.

  2. Roger Dooley says

    Thanks for the alternate interpretation, Evan! Your effort is much appreciated!


  3. Women and Gadgets says

    Wow. Atlast the truth is out.. 🙂

  4. Travis says

    Gotta love how men practically jump out of their skin to come up with a way to denounce any evidence of female advantage in any area. Always looks so insecure to me. Interesting article.

  5. H says

    My husband is a much better judge of character but I have better situation-intuition. Hmm.

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