Cyrano de Bergerac is a talkative poet who, however, has a nose as sharp as his tongue. As his physique does not accompany him, Cyrano it becomes Christian's brain to express his love for Roxane. That is, Christian, rather short of understanders, simply repeats Cyrano's beautiful and chosen words to dazzle the girl.
This plot has been repeated by the cinema and the theater in innumerable occasions: the ugly duckling that is really intelligent and sensitive, and that would receive more attention if it exhibited a more interesting physique. However, it is not such an implausible plot. At least when it comes to someone else posing as you. For example, imagine that we are teachers and we must repeat the words of a child,will anyone notice that something strange is happening to us? Will anyone believe that we have been possessed? Or, on the contrary, in accepting that you are you, will everything that you say through your mouth be equally valid even if it has actually been formulated by another person, by a child?
That was mainly an unusual experiment of Stanley Milgram, the famous psychologist at Yale University worldwide known for leading the experiments of the small world (the source of the concept of the six degrees of separation) and the Milgram Experiment on obedience to authority.
You are you even if it's not you
Milgram called these supplanters the identity of the experiment volunteers precisely cyranoids, in honor of Cyrano. Although these experiments did not attract much attention at the time, they now return to the forefront thanks to the reproduction of two of them in an article published by British social psychologists Kevin Corti Y Alex Gillespie.
If what Cyrano did was to whisper the words to Christian, in Milgran's experiment, the "source" spoke through a microphone and the 'shake' listened through a hidden earpiece. He or she simply had to repeat what they heard in front of others. Milgram said no one was able to detect the trick. As the results, however, were never published, and Milgram only referred to that data anecdotally, Corti and Gillespie decided to recreate the experiment.
In the experiment, the rocking sat in an "interaction room" and participated in a conversation with the "interacting", a volunteer who did not know the nature of the experiment, and who hoped to be talking to a normal person. Without the knowledge of the volunteers, the source was watching the conversation from another room, through a video and audio link, and could tell the shack exactly what to say.
20 volunteers participated in a 10-minute conversation with the cyranoid. Another 20 were tested in a control condition, in which there was no source, and the imitation was speaking normally. The results indicated that, like Milgram had said, the illusion of talking to someone who had not been supplanted by another person was very convincing:
None of the participants stated that their interlocutor was behaving unusually or in a prescribed manner during the post-interaction interviews. On the other hand, none of the written evaluations of the participants in the cyranoid condition gave any indication that the illusion had been detected. When the deception was revealed, the responses were a positive mixture of amazement and fun.
In another experiment, a 12-year-old boy interacted with the volunteers while being targeted by a 37-year-old man. The volunteers didn't notice anything either. Yes they said that the child was intelligent or that he had very good manners, but little else.
We do not know what would happen if the person who is suddenly seconded by a cyrano is someone family with whom we have already interacted before. Would we notice the difference? Or would we simply assume that a person is her because she looks like her, without really attending to the nature of her words?