Critical Thinking History of Psychology I/O Psychology

Episode 71: Horse Sense or Nonsense? Clever Hans is Alive and Well

Can horses be used for corporate training or is this nonsense? If you listened to the NPR piece called, “Horse Sense: New Breed Of Executive Training” you might have had the same reaction I did: sounds a little “fishy”. Find out why “Clever Hans” just might be alive and well in the field of management training. You’ll also see some very subtle operant conditioning at work here.

Resources for this Episode

Thank you to the following for permission to use their comments:

  • Dr. Debra Briihl, Dept. of Psychology and Counseling, Valdosta State University
  • Dr. Dennis Goff, Chair, Department of Psychology, Randolph College
  • Melissa R. Shyan-Norwalt, PhD, CAAB, Companion Animal Problem Solvers, Inc.
  • Dr. Gerald L. Peterson, Professor of Psychology, Saginaw Valley State University
  • Dr. Carol Devolder, St. Ambrose University

Clever Hans

Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation

  • Encyclopedia of Educational Technology
  • Instructional System Design – Evaluation Phase – Chapter VI. From the Performance, Learning, Leadership, & Knowledge website



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1 Comment

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    Ruth Eyrich

    September 18, 2008

    In this episode you shortly talked about a motivational trainer and him pushing your arm down.
    This reminded me on the film about our German team handball team, when they became world champions in 2007 here in Germany. They had a motivational trainer, who wanted to show them the effect of positiv and negative thinking of oneself and the people around you. I don’t know how that worked but one of the players was standing in front of the others with his eyes closed and the trainer just showed thump up or down for thinking positivly or negativly. Then he pushed the arm down. When he shoed the thump up, the arm didn’t go down and when the thump showed downward and everyone was supposed to think negativly the arm just went down, when he pushed. He repeated that three or four times. How did that work? I thought, maybe the trainer didn’t push so hard. Or has this anything to do with the fans pushing their team?
    I know, that there are some studies about that: home teams winning. And I just looked up the winners and the first two runner ups at world champions and European champions in soccer and team handball. The hosting teams are one of these three in about 90%, even if they aren’t that good in this sport. (One of the exceptions was the USA soccer team in 94. 🙂 )
    Maybe you could do an episode on that.

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