May 03, 2004

Manipulating Sounds and People

Wired News reports that "the sound of fingernails scraping a dusty chalkboard makes a listener immediately squirm and cover her ears. One company believes that there is real science behind such a reaction to sounds. NeuroPop is integrating neurosensory algorithms into music to create a certain mood and evoke more intense responses from listeners. The company hopes to market its compositions to the movie industry and video game companies."

But why stop there? If the research ultimately bears this out, one could see all sorts of applications, ranging from sales and marketing to influencing case decisions. Effective trial lawyers and trial consultants have used multimedia to persuade juries for many years. Just over a month ago at Techshow, Craig Ball played a moving slideshow tribute to a deceased husband and father for one of his cases. It included sentimental music and Craig played it to show us the substantial impact such presentations can have. It worked, as there were many misty eyes and sniffling in the audience by the time it concluded.

Now imagine that in addition to the touching photographs and emotion-inducing music, there were also subtle sounds incorporated based upon neurosensory algorithms for added effectiveness. After all, the photographs were chosen to elicit a desired response, as was the music. Would adding other auditory elements be any different, and how far could/should one go? Is it undue influence such as subliminal messages, or conversely, very effective persuasiveness? One thing's for certain: As we advance certain sciences and their applications in law, the lines are going to be blurred even more so.

Topic(s):   Other Musings
Posted by Jeff Beard