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Applying the Lens Model to Investment Pitching [Lens Model
Posted on April 21, 2016 @ 06:07:00 AM by Paul Meagher

Cognitive scientist, Peter Juslin, used Brunswik's lens model (which I've discussed in previous blogs) to study and depict how emotion is communicated during music performance. In his research article Cue Utilization in Communication of Emotion in Music Performance: Relating Performance to Perception (PDF) he presented this useful variation of Brunswik's lens model diagram.

So you have a piece of music notation and you ask a bunch of musicians to convey certain emotions with that music and, correspondingly, you ask listeners to state what emotion is being conveyed by the performed music piece. What Juslin's research showed is that skilled music performers are pretty good at expressing emotion using various performance cues (tempo, loudness, spectrum, articulation, etc...) that signal the emotion they were asked to convey because music listeners were pretty good at reporting on what the intended emotion was based on the musician's performance cues.

Juslin's lens model of emotional communication in music is interesting for a couple reasons:

  1. It offers a useful example of how the lens model can be used to understand uncertainty associated with performance and not just uncertainty associated with perception and judgment. In the case of music, there can be uncertainty associated with the means you should use to achieve a desired emotional effect. The conveyance of emotion through branding might be conceptualized in a similar manner and whether people pick up on the emotion(s) your brand is trying to convey would have to be tested by whether potential consumers report some of the keywords associated with the emotions your brand is trying to convey. Brunsik's probabilistic functionalism included the idea that there is uncertainty involved the selection of means to achieve goals but there hasn't been nearly as much research on the performance side of the lens model as the perception/judgment side. This diagram offers up an example of how the lens model can be applied to performance situations.
  2. The diagram also shows how the performer and the listener each have their own lens - the performer trying to communicate emotion (output side) and the listener implicitly trying to glean the emotional intent from the performance (input side). In Juslin's study there was success in communicating emotional intent through music performance to listeners, but what happens if you are not so skilled or the listener is taking in the music in a loud bar under the influence of alcohol? There might be little emotional communication between the performer and the listener in such circumstances. Or their might be compensation by the skilled musician to the loud bar context that involves using other cues to achieve the emotional effects they are looking for. Brunswik called the flexible use of alternative cues/means in judgment/performance vicarious functioning and it was a very important idea in his probabilistic functionalism framework.

The lens model in the above form might offer up a framework to understand the relationship between an entrepreneur pitching an investment opportunity and an investor picking up on the cues that suggest that it is a good investment opportunity. There are a variety of semi-reliable indicators of success and character that an entrepreneur tries to communicate to an investor in an investment pitch which an investor may or may not pick up on. Even if the investor picks up on them, they have their own lens model of what constitutes a good investment or character that may not correspond in the first place with what an entrepreneur is trying to communicate in their pitch. The lens model as extended by Juslin provides a framework for both understanding and studying what goes into successful pitching as it emphasizes studying both the performance and the perceptional aspects of cue utilization in pitching investment opportunities. Some of the cues that go into successful face-to-face investment pitching (e.g., novelty, prizing, status, attention control, etc...) have been discussed anecdotally by Oren Klaff in his book Pitch Anything, but could perhaps be studied more rigorously using the lens model framework.

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