The Decoy Effect is a simple but powerful trick that marketers use to influence you to buy something that is bigger or more expensive than you need or want. I fall for this every time I go to the movies and think I'm going to buy the medium popcorn but end up getting the large because it costs just a few cents more. The medium popcorn is the decoy that nudges you to buy the large. But social psychologists have also studied the Decoy Effect outside retail environments. From the BBC News:
The decoy effect might also influence our voting in elections, and recruitment decisions. In these kinds of situations, the “decoy” may appear by accident rather than having been deliberately placed in the selection, but if you do come across two candidates who are similar, but one is slightly superior to the other, it will heighten your regard for them compared to the other competitors...
On a more positive note, scientists in the UK have also started to consider whether the decoy effect might be used to encourage people to make healthier life choices. Christian Von Wagner, a reader in behavioural science and health at University College London, for instance, recently explored people’s intentions to undergo a vital – but unpleasant – screening for colorectal cancer. He found that given the choice between arranging an appointment for the screening or not having the procedure at all, many people chose not to go. But if he also presented them with a third option – an appointment at a less convenient hospital with a longer waiting time, ie, the decoy – the uptake was greater.
For more on the Decoy Effect and other fascinating cognitive biases, I highly recommend behavioral economist Dan Ariely's fantastic book Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is Robert Cialdini’s absolute classic book outlining six principles that you can use to convince people to do things and/or defend yourself against coercion. I hadn’t seen this 2012 animated explainer video above narrated by Cialdini and Steve Martin, not the comedian but rather co-author of Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven […]
Trying to see the world through someone else’s eyes is a great way to build empathy and understanding between people. Turns out, this approach — when taken literally — also works with robots. Researchers from the University of Bourgogne, University of Trento, and their colleagues used a head-mounted display to put people “inside” a robot […]
Oregon governor Kate Brown signed a bill that excuses public school students for taking “mental health days” just as they are excused for other illnesses. The bill was spearheaded by youth activists. From the Associated Press: (Eighteen-year-old Hailey) Hardcastle, who plans to attend the University of Oregon in the fall, said she and fellow youth […]
Need data storage? Join the club. It may still seem like the wild west out there, and for many companies, it’s a tough choice between security and accessibility. Luckily, there’s a platform that gives you a lot of both: Polar Backup Cloud Storage. Whether you’re a busy private citizen or managing valuable company data, Polar […]
There are a lot of different language apps out there because nobody learns anything the same exact way – especially not something as complex as a new language. For some people, the best way is to dive in and start talking, but that’s easier said than done if you’re not around those natives you aspire […]
There’s movie merch and then there are artifacts – one-of-a-kind items for the true fans only. These 11 items definitely fall into the latter category. We’ve unearthed movie art, props and other fan touchstones from the major nerd franchises of the last 50 years. Gaze upon these Star Wars and Marvel collectibles and don’t worry. […]