Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Psychology of Criticism

A professor and I were emailing back and forth debating the value of online criticism. He tells me there are sites where students can openly bash professors with no one moderating the site. Many professors are not happy about this. I do not want to discuss the pro's and con's. Obviously, like it or not, you cannot stop it. It is WOM that is recorded for the world to see. It did get me thinking about the psychology of the situation. If I were to bash SBC, it is a large brand and no one feels it is a personal attack. When a politician is criticized, they have usually built up a thick skin. However, there are a lot of people out there not used to taking criticism. If a professor goes onto a board and sees 30 good comments on his ability and 3 bad, he will be upset about the three bad. They will seem personal to him. However, the public will go on and be able to do the math. We have all become statisticians and can quickly skim eBay feedback, web stats and other sources of information and we expect there to be some negative. The question is, what do the bad say and what is the ratio. Each of us has a different tolerance for risk, but we have become as accustom to calculating risk with online criticism as we are at measuring up a gorge to leap across.