"Louder and more energetic!" advised the mother, as she pumped her arms for emphasis. "Like that, feel it, feel it!" Jason might have been worse than Ambre, but he seemed to inspire support.
When Jason began to sing again, the mother suggested he pretend that she and her daughter are the girl and that he is singing to them. "And you're singing to her, like I really want you, I want you forever, don't ever want you to leave me. You know, just get into it. Real good. Like powerful strong." Jason continued singing, going so far as to kneel before them.
"Right, something like that," said the mother. "Right, that's the way rockers do it! Right like that! Right like that!"
The ABC News team told the woman that it was all part of a report on honesty and that we wanted to know what she really thought of his singing.
"I think I was being very honest," she said. "Because he felt that song. And I felt it for him."
She told us she thought he could make it as a singer, and if he didn't do well she would have told him. "I'm a very honest person."
Jason approached a mother and daughter visiting from Houston. It seemed no matter how badly he sang, it was music to someone's ears. He asked whether there was anything he could do to improve and the daughter said no, it sounded really good and she'd vote for him.
We asked her what she really thought.
"Well, he was good. … I like to encourage people," she said. "Because if you told somebody you're really terrible, they may not ever try again, you know? And I think as long as you keep plugging for it and you really want it, you'll get there."
Over and over, people seemed to find any way to avoid telling Jason he's bad.
Jason approached a couple sitting down to have some lunch. Rather than get up and leave, the woman turned this chance meeting into a performance workshop.
"You know what's missing? I want you to talk to the girl. The girl is not there. The girl is right here. … You want the girl to come to you. You have to send that energy out to her."
When we approached to break the news that this was all an experiment, we weren't totally shocked to learn that the woman May Maderino was an actor, playwright, singer and voice teacher. Too bad this wasn't for real.
So…what's going on here? Weren't they both equally pathetic?
Keating said maybe it's because our society judges women much more harshly than men.
"If an essay is written and signed by a woman and the same essay is signed by a man, often times that essay will be judged more favorably with the male signature at the bottom of the page," she said. "Our expectations effect our perceptions."