The Dr. Fox Effect & ChatGPT: Charisma, Cognitive Biases, and Digital Communication


Oleksii Skurikhin

Time to read

6 min

September 27, 2023

In the heart of 1970, whispers of an unusual lecture buzzed through the corridors of the University of Southern California School of Medicine. Two groups of students were curious and looking forward to hearing a new class on "Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education." Little did they know, the day's lesson held a twist.

Among the presenters, one was a genuine scholar, while the other was actor Michael Fox, cleverly posing as "Dr. Myron L. Fox."

As the lecture unfolded, the students who joined the Mr. Fox lecture were drawn into the charismatic web spun by the excellent performer. Though his speech was peppered with nonsensical jargon, contradictions, and gibberish, they rated him on par with the real scientist.

His secret weapon? An attractive mix of humor, charisma, and warmth.

This experiment, known as the Dr. Fox effect, parallels ChatGPT's abilities. Just as Dr. Fox, ChatGPT can craft convincing yet potentially misleading responses, taking advantage of people's cognitive biases.

Even Stack Overflow fell victim to the ChatGPT spreading and now has experienced a decline in traffic, despite researchers finding that 52% of ChatGPT's responses to questions may need to be corrected.

The following sections will analyze how ChatGPT affects community engagement and communication.

Community Engagement

One of the most appreciated aspects of Stack Overflow is the availability of multiple answers to a single question, along with varied perspectives from developers, aiding in selecting the best solution.

ChatGPT can provide multiple options if explicitly instructed in the prompt. However, its answers lack human-based reasoning. This can be problematic for junior developers. While they can ask questions without fear of negative feedback, they might struggle to identify flawed architectural approaches behind seemingly correct answers.

Therefore our focus should be on promoting best practices and fostering a collaborative environment. This way, developers will feel comfortable communicating within the company and seeking trusted answers offline and online rather than solely depending on "smart" assistants.

Communication Practice

Moreover, we can take advantage of the Mr. Fox effect. Now, everyone has the potential to become an excellent presenter, sharing brilliant ideas with others. ChatGPT offers a unique opportunity, especially for non-English speaking developers, to practice communication with stakeholders and colleagues. It has become the best soft skill simulator ever created.

Since ChatGPT shares all the data with its analytics and others, users can't put it under an NDA. However, by crafting our prompts to be artificial and using fictional scenarios without real names, numbers, and proprietary ideas, we can quickly learn from ChatGPT's clear and polite way of responding.

For instance, here are five examples showcasing ChatGPT's ability to transform a potentially misleading or toxic communication into a more professional tone:

Prompt: “I need to convey feedback to my colleague. Can you help me rephrase the following statement to make it more professional and constructive? Some incorrect sentences.”

Case 1

  • Original: "Your idea doesn't work. Try something else."
  • Reworked: "Thank you for the suggestion. I believe there might be alternative approaches to consider. Do you have other suggestions we could explore?"

Case 2

  • Original: "I don't understand why you did this."
  • Reworked: "Can you help me understand the reasoning behind this approach?"

Case 3

  • Original: "You should've told me earlier."
  • Reworked: "Could we set up a regular check-in or communication method in the future? This will ensure we're both informed and address issues promptly."

Case 4

  • Original: "Add more content to the report."
  • Reworked with ChatGPT's help: "Expand the report by including detailed analyses of our Q2 sales figures, a comparison with Q1, and insights on market trends. Also, incorporate relevant charts and infographics for better visualization."

Case 5

  • Original: "The app crashes sometimes."
  • Reworked with ChatGPT's help: "We've observed intermittent app crashes, particularly when accessing the 'Profile' section on Android devices running version 10.0. Can you investigate and rectify the root cause?"

Such interactions refine communication, fostering collaboration, client satisfaction, faster deliveries, and outstanding outcomes.


The wave ChatGPT has created in the online Q&A sphere is undeniable. Technologies are reshaping the digital dialogue. As we stand at this intersection of AI and human intellect, we must recognize and leverage the potential of such platforms to our advantage.