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 […]
Sous vide cooking: It sounds fancy, but it’s actually one of the easiest and most reliable ways to cook. It’s the reason why many restaurants are able to put out delicious dishes with a consistent flavor. All you need is the right equipment, and that hasn’t always been available to those outside the resto crowd. […]
The more you use your computer, the more it becomes possible for others to use it too. Where there are anti-virus systems, there are hackers looking for a way to get around them. That’s why it’s important to get software that doesn’t just passively scout for viruses in the background. The folks behind GlassWire have […]
Knowledge is power. It’s a cliché, but sometimes things turn into a cliché because they’re true. If you’re making your way through the world of business and entrepreneurship, it only makes sense to read about the insights of people who have climbed that ladder before you. Trouble is, the modern workday doesn’t leave a lot […]