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TOEFL Question

Psychology






 Body language can say a lot about what a person thinks or desires. For many years, psychologists have studied body language to learn about how people communicate by using their bodies. Paralanguage is an important part of communication, not only among humans but between humans and animals as well. Scientists have discovered that some animals seem to be more receptive to cues from humans. One instance of this is documented in the case of Clever Hans, a horse from Germany who would lend his name to the phenomenon called the Clever Hans Effect.

 Early in Hans’s life, his owner discovered that Hans had an extraordinary talent. Unlike other horses, Hans was able to perform simple arithmetic, tell time, and even keep track of calendars. Wishing to share Hans’s talent with the world, his owner took Hans all over the continent to showcase his wondrous skills. But when German psychologist Oskar Pfungst studied Clever Hans, he discovered that Hans was no more skillful at mathematics than any other horse. Instead, he was particularly adept at interpreting human body language.

 Pfungst came to this conclusion after many different trials. First, he took Hans away from an audience to make sure the horse was not receiving signals from people watching him. Then Pfungst had people other than the horse’s owner ask Hans questions. In both trials, Hans was able to answer the question correctly, but the horse performed poorly when he could not see the person asking him questions. He also did not perform well in tests where the person asking the question did not know the answer. These results led Pfungst to a groundbreaking discovery. Without intending to, the people asking questions were giving Hans cues about the correct answers. As the horse tapped out his response to a question, his trainer would change his posture when Hans approached the right number. That was why he could not give the right answer when the trainer did not know it. Furthermore, without being able to see the trainer, Hans could not tell when he should stop tapping his foot.

 Pfungst’s discovery was important in many respects. It helped scientists thereafter design experiments in which testers could not influence the results through subtle, often involuntary cues. It also brought to light problems that occurred not only with animal test subjects, but human subjects as well.




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Paralanguage: communication that does not involve speech or verbal utterance

Respective: able to listen to idea

Cue: a signal

Document: to record the details of an event

Showcase: to display something

Adept: having natural ability to do something well


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Q. The word their in the passage refers to


  1. people

  2. horses

  3. psychologists

  4. animals










A. (A) people

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