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Psychologists binged ‘The Voice’ and discovered the surprising secret to picking the right mentor

Eighteen seasons of NBC’s reality competition ‘The Voice’ teaches an important lesson about mentors. Don’t pick an enthusiastic one.

Psychologists binged ‘The Voice’ and discovered the surprising secret to picking the right mentor
[Photo: mentatdgt/Pexels]

Mentors and advisors are crucial to your success. And 18 seasons of The Voice teaches an important lesson: Don’t pick the enthusiastic one.

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Using data from the NBC reality competition, researchers found that before competing, contestants say that they will choose a mentor for their relevant expertise and strong past success record. But then . . . they don’t. They choose the mentor who expresses the most enthusiasm about them. This ultimately hurts their performances: A separate, in-the-lab study found that enthusiasm has no impact on final performance quality, but precise expertise does.

The research was published recently in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. The take-home: A mentor who thinks you walk on water won’t necessarily help you most. This advice will sound familiar to anyone who has ever been romantically duped by an extremely enthusiastic partner.

The research was carried out by a trio of The Voice fans from Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Toronto, and New York University, who note that studying The Voice is “extremely time-consuming” but also very fun. To help falling prey to this “prediction error,” they advise writing a checklist of qualities that you want in a coach, mentor, or advisor, to help you choose more wisely in the moment.

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