Does a Red Dot mean cricket ball, traffic signal, marriage, anger or communism?

The Universal Business School, India published a study titled 'The Red Dot' experiment, which was conducted by author & communication expert Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta over the period Jan 2010 to Jan 2020

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: May 14, 2020 5:39 PM
The Red Dot Experiment

The Universal Business School, India has published a ten-year study titled 'The Red Dot' experiment, which was conducted by author and communication expert Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta during the period Jan 2010 to Jan 2020.

Over the course of 10 years, Reeta Gupta showed the picture of a red dot to over 4700 people ( 2300 from India, 1025 from UAE and 1375 from SE Asia, including China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore).

Respondents were just asked, “what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see this?”. Responses under 5 seconds were recorded as fast responses while anything after 5 seconds was recorded as a slow response.

Over 65 unique responses have been tabulated. Quick Indian interpretations of the ‘Red Dot’ include Bindi, Mehendi etc; while the delayed ones were planet and traffic light. In the Middle East, instant responses included anger, evil and henna while the delayed responses include red circle and Japan. In SE Asia, the instant responses tended to marriage and love while the delayed responses included communism, China etc;

Gupta explains, “the qualitative, as well as quantitative results of the Red Dot experiment, confirm the following: (1) the same stimulus can produce divergent responses from different cultures; (2) Instant responses are typically emotional and social in nature; and (3) logical responses emerge later.”

Namrata Bagaria, MBBS, MPH (Harvard), PhD (C) commented on the study, “Traditional knowledge systems have relied on information alone, the present systems rely on experience-based learning and the future systems will rely on context-based learning. Cultural parameters cannot be denied and we need to move away from universal knowledge to contextual knowledge but universal wisdom. This work has the potential to inform the future design work for better user experience and I strongly recommend these findings be disseminated.”

Tarun Anand, Chairman of the Universal Business School adds, “ We are happy to co-present this study, and am certain that this will serve as a toolkit and guide for communication experts from across the world to quote The Red Dot experiment as they design their communication”

Prof B Ravi, Institute Chair Professor, Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay and Founder of the BETIC innovation centre of adds, “the wide range of responses to a simple picture (red dot) shows the importance of carefully planning visual communication to ensure they impart the intended message."

The study also poses a few new questions that can be taken up in future investigations.

1. Education content shown from childhood shapes our meaning of the world. Propaganda based education, therefore, harms our world in unimaginable ways. How do we bring objectivity into education that leads to a world that values peace above differences?

2. Political leadership, in particular, makes communication that is global in nature. What stereotypes are we reinforcing and how does it widen gaps between cultures?

3. The billions of advertising dollars that are spent; how can we use them to achieve a ‘new common understanding’ of the world?

Raghav Poddar, Chairman Western Zone for FICCI Arise adds, “With this study, Mrs Gupta has established her deep understanding of the impact of communication; in an era of information overload, she encourages us to consider the consequences of what we put out into the world.”

Link to the study

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