Todd and his colleague found that "question dodgers," who basically answer a question they would rather be asked, typically get off scot-free. Furthermore, when they offer up an 'answer' with confidence, people prefer, like, and trust them more than someone who more genuinely attempts to answer the question. You can see Dan Gilbert in Todd's legacy (i.e. cognitive biases, logical fallacies, errors in judgment). Fascinating research! Yet another example of what cognitive misers we are-- unaware of so many nuances, constantly taking mental shortcuts.
In an HBS interview, Todd sums up some of his findings by saying that
It is striking that participants failed to punish the speaker when he dodged the question asked. For example, the speaker paid no price for answering a question about the illegal drug use problem in the United States with a discussion of why we need universal health-care insurance. This lack of penalty might explain why overt dodging appears so prevalent in politics (and in life).
The big finding is that people rely on style as a shortcut to substance. In Todd's words, "style blinds us to the lack of substance." It really makes you question what authenticity is, or rather which aspect of authenticity is most important: saying what you know well, or trying your darnedest to answer a question you really don't have anything to say about. It seems we all just want to hear something, and aren't so picky as to what... Does this remind you of the positive effect of attention?
Todd seems to focus on this phenomenon as evidence of our natural ability to be flexible in social interactions. It's true, I suppose we are efficient enough perceivers that we'd rather pursue value in a conversation than force an answer we know isn't there.