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O Behave! Issue 1 (April Edition)


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O BEHAVE is a monthly newsletter brought to you by #ogilvychange that encompasses the latest research in behavioural science. Enjoy!

O Behave! Issue 1 (April Edition)

  1. 1. O BEHAVE! The Kahneman Edition Welcome to the first edition of O Behave, your monthly summary of the latest in cognitive psychology and behavioural economics, brought to you by #ogilvychange. An Evening with Daniel Kahneman The O Behave editors were lucky enough to see Daniel Kahneman in conversation with David Baddiel at the fabulous Methodist Central Hall in Westminster last month. Something that resonated with us both was the emphasis on storytelling: As humans we need our memories to create a narrative of our lives and consider ourselves whole, which is why the amnesia associated with dementia is so feared in our society and sufferers living entirely in the present can be seen as less than whole. Often people talk about certain events ruining the overall experience – the example Kahneman gave was of one of his colleagues saying a loud crash at the end of a piece of music ruined the experience for him. However, Kahneman states that this only ruined the memory – the actual experience of the music before the crash was unchanged. Nudges of the Week Negativity Bias People tend to pay more attention to bad news and according to social scientists this is because we perceive negative news as being more important or profound due to our selective attention. In evolutionary terms, paying attention to bad news may be more adaptive than attending to good news. However, today we run the risk of dwelling on negativity at the expense of genuinely good news. Steven Pinker, in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, argues that crime, violence, war, and other injustices are steadily declining, yet most people would argue that things are getting worse — what is a perfect example of the negativity bias at work. Projection Bias As individuals trapped inside our own minds 24/7, it's often difficult for us to project outside the bounds of our own consciousness and preferences. We tend to assume that most people think just like us — though there may be no justification for it. This cognitive shortcoming often leads to a related effect known as the false consensus bias where we tend to believe that people not only think like us, but that they also agree with us. It's a bias where we overestimate how typical and normal we are, and assume that a consensus exists on matters when there may be none. Moreover, it can also create the effect where the members of a radical or fringe group assume that more people on the outside agree with them than is the case, or the exaggerated confidence one has when predicting the winner of an election or sports match. O Behave • Issue 1 • April 2014
  2. 2. What, Me Biased? We all like to think that we are clever enough to overcome biases in our environment but research is consistently showing that we may be smart, but we aren’t that smart! A new piece of research from Princeton University this month showed that even when people were told that what they were about to see could create a bias, they were still convinced that they wouldn’t be affected. Guess what…they were! In two experiments, one in a lab and one online, participants were shown 80 paintings. Participants were asked to rate the artistic merit of each on a 1-9 scale. Half the participants were told nothing about the artists. The other half were told that they would see the artist’s name before the picture with some paintings by an unknown painter and others by famous painters. They were told that this could create bias as people may rate the merit of the paintings by the famous artist more highly. Participants agreed that the format lent itself to bias but would not affect their judgment. In reality, it did. They rated the merit of paintings attributed to great artists higher than those works purportedly created by unknowns and said they were objective in their rating. On the other hand, those who did not see the alleged names of the artists rated the artistic merit of the two groups of paintings the same. Implications for this in the real world could be the court system where a juror who is certain he or she won’t take into account testimony ruled inadmissible may, in fact, be swayed by it. Obesity and Temporal Discounting A recent study published in Appetite has shown a robust relationship between body mass index and choosing immediate over delayed rewards. Overweight and obese participants were more likely to choose £100 today than £110 in a week than normal- and underweight participants were, although these differences decreased when the delayed rewards increased. The authors concluded that the heavier participants had higher temporal discounting rates, which means the delay of the reward had a greater effect on reducing its perceived value than it did for the lighter participants. This suggests that finding ways of increasing cognitive control could be key to obesity interventions, assuming a preference for instant money rewards also applies to their diet and lifestyle choices. However, it must be noted that this finding is only a correlation and does not prove causality. The likelihood to choose a delayed reward over an immediate one is related to activity in the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. Studies have shown that a healthy diet and physical exercise increase prefrontal function, but both behaviours are negatively correlated with obesity. Therefore, preferences for immediate rewards may be a symptom of lifestyle factors associated with obesity, rather than a cause of obesity itself. In addition, previous studies have found that discount rates in one domain do not always consistently translate to others, such as money, food and environmental concern. O Behave • Issue 1 • April 2014
  3. 3. Psychology of Queuing Queuing elicits powerful emotions in all of us such as stress and boredom and within the business domain, customers’ queuing experience can leave lasting impressions on their perception of their brand. Houston airport found that customers were lodging a significant number of complaints about the long waiting time at baggage claims. In response to this the executives increased the number of baggage handlers which in turn significantly reduced the waiting time to 8 minutes but complaints still continued. Whilst observing passengers behaviours it was noted that passengers walk one minute to the baggage claim but waited 7 minutes for their bags. When they moved the arrival gate away from the main terminal and rerouted bags to the outermost carousel, meaning that passengers now had to walk 6 times longer to claim their bags, complaints dropped to zero. This is because occupied time (walking to baggage claim) feels shorter than unoccupied time (standing at carousel). Expectations also affect how we feel about queues. Beating expectation boosts our mood. People who wait less than anticipated leave happier than those who wait longer than expected which is why Disney over- estimates wait time for their rides. Kahneman further notes that our memories of our queuing experience are strongly influenced by our final moments. If a long wait ends on a happy note, we tend to look back on it with positive memories even if we were miserable for the majority of the experience, whereas if we had a pleasant queuing experience but negative emotions dominate the end of the experience we remember it as being a negative experience. Banning E-Cigarettes Electronic cigarettes may be banned in enclosed public spaces in Wales due to concerns that they normalise smoking. Health Minister Mark Drakeford has suggested that e-cigarettes may undermine the smoking ban as they become more prevalent in indoor spaces, and he wants them to be relegated to the same outdoor areas as cigarette smokers. We know people are powerfully motivated by social norms, and descriptive norms - what others around us are doing - are much more influential than injunctive norms, i.e. what is expected of us. This means there may be some weight to the Health Minister’s argument, as people may take up smoking in e-cigarette form as a result of being surrounded by them. There is also the possibility that the popularity of e-cigarettes may encourage young people to start smoking real cigarettes, feeling safe in the knowledge that quitting will be easy with relatively risk-free e-cigarettes. Conversely, Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar argues that banning e- cigarettes indoors could reverse the progress that has already been made by new smoking laws. If the e-cigarette smokers are forced outside in the cold with those smoking normal cigarettes, it is not impossible that they may turn back to real cigarettes. Though there is not enough evidence to be conclusive, e-cigarettes are likely to be far less dangerous to health than real cigarettes, and almost certainly have fewer second-hand implications for those around the e-smoker. Banning them indoors therefore seems pointless and quite possibly counterproductive. O Behave • Issue 1 • April 2014
  4. 4. Behavioural Model Motivation-Opportunities-Abilities (MOA) model by Ölander and Thøgersen (1995) The MOA positions behaviour as a product of opportunity, i.e. facilitating conditions in the environment, and ability, i.e. existing habits and knowledge. These two factors can disrupt the motivation to act in a certain way, because as we know, intention is not always enough to produce behaviour. Motivation is determined by attitude and social norms, both of which feed into intention. In the MOA model, there is a feedback loop where performing the behaviour updates the belief evaluation of that behaviour: In other words, behaviour drives attitudes. Behaviour also feeds into ability, as one might expect - doing an action increases the knowledge of it and the likelihood it will be adopted as habit. Real Life Nudge Spotted: ‘Handwritten’ notes from the bartender at All Bar One, Appold Street. The menu is quite cognitively effortful, with too many different types of cocktail, long descriptions in a small font and no pictures. The choice overload has been reduced by adding a few notes that look handwritten, making several of the cocktails more salient. They also use the messenger effect by indicating the Basil and Chilli Caipiroska was the winning cocktail in a mixology competition, curated by the expert team at All Bar One Leicester Square. Adjectives like “hand picked”, used to describe the Spiced Collins, have been shown to increase sales and customer satisfaction. And in case you were wondering, the nudges did work and the Spiced Collins really was delicious. O Behave • Issue 1 • April 2014
  5. 5. New Journal Decision, a new multidiscipline journal with Nick Chater and Gerd Gigerenzer on the Editorial Board has been published. Upcoming Events Special Behavioural Boozenomics: 2nd anniversary of London Behavioural Economics Network Wednesday 23rd April, 6.45-9pm An Evening with Dan Ariely: how to academy Sunday 18th May, 6.45-8.15pm Nudgestock 2 Friday 6th June, 10.30am-6.00pm Find Out More Visit us at Follow us @OgilvyChange The Editors Cíosa Juliet O Behave • Issue 1 • April 2014
  6. 6. References & links What, Me Biased? Hansen, Gerbasi, Todorov, Kruse & Pronin (2014). People Claim Objectivity After Knowingly Using Biased Strategies. Obesity and temporal discounting Jarmolowicza, Cherry, Reed, Bruce, Crespie, Lusk & Bruce (2014). Robust relation between temporal discounting rates and body mass. Psychology of Queuing Behavioural Design (2014). The surprising psychology of waiting in queues. E-cigarettes may be banned in public places in Wales The Guardian (2014). Electronic cigarettes may face public ban in Wales. O Behave • Issue 1 • April 2014