How Well Do You Know the Apple Logo? 3
Bias of the Month 4
How to Motivate People 6
Powerful Inspiration 7
An Interview with Professor Paul Dolan 8
Real Life Nudge of the Month 10
Upcoming Events 10
Blake, A. B., Nazarian, M., & Castel, A. D. (2015). The Apple of the mind’s eye: Everyday attention, metamemory, and reconstructive memory for the Apple logo. The
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2014.1002798
If asked to draw or pick out the Apple logo, do you think you could? Take a look at the pictures of the Apple logos and put
your knowledge to the test. Although this is one of the most recognisable logos in the world, if you are like most people
you struggled to choose the correct logo…without cheating (the answer is the apple in the middle on the last line, to put
you out of your misery)! A new study from UCLA published last month found this lack of recognition effect amongst Apple
and PC users and offered an explanation to explain their findings.
HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE APPLE LOGO?
They found that despite expressing high confidence in their ability
to recognise the Apple logo, only 47% of participants chose the
correct one, with no significant difference between Apple and PC
users. How has a logo that is prominently advertised, that people
come into contact with very frequently and that was designed to be
recognisable become so unrecognisable?
According to the authors it is due to a “form of attentional
saturation” which leads to “inattentional amnesia”. They state that
due to the logos simplicity and ubiquity, people stop noticing the
details because their brain tells them they don’t need to. As we see
it everyday, and therefore don’t need to memorise the details, our
brains use an “efficient and adaptive memory system” to avoid
storing unnecessary information and just remember the gist of the
Unfortunately for advertisers these findings show how frequent
exposure does not always lead to deep, accurate visual memories
but does show how clever our brains are to constantly adapting to
our new environments.
BIAS OF THE MONTH
The Bye-Now Effect
Our behaviour is often altered by unconscious primes around us in the environment, but new research suggests that
just reading the word ‘bye’ could go on to increase the amount you spend by triggering associations with the word
‘buy’ – which our friends at Cognitive Lode have ingeniously dubbed ‘the bye-now effect’.
Derick and Herr (2014) gave participants a travel blog post to read, that either ended with “Bye-bye!” or “So long!”
Participants were then shown a ‘name your price’ restaurant and asked how much they would be willing to pay; those
who’d read the “Bye-bye!” post were willing to pay around $5 more than their “So long!” counterparts. In similar
experiments, the authors found participants would write significantly more when told to focus on the right side of their
body than the left, and said they would make fewer savings when a man in a story said, “Phew!” than “Close Call!”
When we read, we subvocalise each word; that is, say it silently in our heads.
This means that when we come across a homophone, a word that shares its
pronunciation with another that is spelled differently, the meaning and
associations for both words are activated. Usually, the erroneous word and its
associations can be suppressed and there is no effect on our comprehension,
but certain conditions make this suppression more difficult. One such
condition is cognitive load; when the brain is occupied with other tasks, it
increases its reliance on automatic processes, therefore reducing the
cognitive control that would filter out irrelevant information. Importantly,
Derick and Herr’s effects were only found in participants experiencing
cognitive load, whether due to being asked to hold a seven-digit number in
their heads or counting the number of ‘a’s in the passage they were reading.
On an unrelated note, if you remember the number 9268563, I hope this bias
has managed to pique your interest (to take a peek at the rest of O Behave!).
Davis, D.F., & Herr, P.M. (2014). From Bye to Buy: Homophones as a Phonological Route to Priming. Journal of Consumer Research, 40 (6), 1063-1077.
Entries close 10th April 2015
Grand Prix judged by
HOW TO MOTIVATE PEOPLE
Having the ability to motivate people to achieve a goal is a skill that everybody wants but not everybody has. The science of
motivation is still a growing field and an area in which fascinating new research has just been published. Shen, Fishbach
and Hsee (2015) have found that uncertain rewards are more powerful than certain rewards in boosting motivation towards
a goal, making us work harder, spend more and enjoy the process more.
It is worth noting that although past research states we prefer certainty over uncertainty as we are risk averse in nature, this
study builds on this robust finding and states that it is the uncertainty of what the reward is that is more motivating than a
clear certain reward, as it fosters a feeling of excitement and enjoyment. Here are two of the studies that show this
Water Drinking: Participants were asked to drink a large amount of water within two minutes. Half were told they would
receive £2 if they completed the challenge; others were told they would receive either £1 or £2, with the outcome dictated by
a coin toss. Results found that those in the latter group with the uncertain reward completed the task 70% of the time,
whereas the certain reward group only completed the task 43% of the time.
The Truffle Test: In another study, researchers asked participants to bid on a bag of
chocolate truffles. Half the participants were shown a bag with 4 chocolates in it, the
other half weren’t shown the contents but were told that there was an equal chance
of the bag containing either 2 or 4 truffles. Results found that participants were willing
to spend over double the amount for the uncertain bag (£1.49) than the certain bag
with 4 truffles (£0.66).
Overall these experiments found that we’re more likely to invest more effort, time,
and money in pursuing rewards of an uncertain nature even if the uncertain reward
has a lower potential value than a certain reward. These findings have huge potential
implications for many fields including healthcare (getting people to do more
exercise), gaming apps, loyalty cards (complete coffee card and receive 1 or 2 free
coffees, to be decided by a coin flip) and show that a higher reward doesn’t
necessarily mean a more motivating reward. Fascinating!
Shen, L., Fishbach, A., & Hsee, C.K. (2015). The Motivating-Uncertainty Effect: Uncertainty Increases Resource Investment in the Process of Reward Pursuit. Journal of
Consumer Research, 41 (5), 1301-1315.
The next time your boss is boring you with a lengthy story about his or her life, you can take comfort (or not) in knowing they
genuinely find this story inspirational – because it’s about them. New research by Van Kleef et al (2015) shows that people
in positions of power, or who perceive themselves as more powerful, are more likely to derive their inspiration from
themselves than from others.
Inspiration is a feeling vital for human motivation, but very little is known about it. Defined as the feeling of being enthused,
moved, amazed and uplifted, more is coming to light about where this feeling comes from; for some – like Matthew
McConaughey, who was quoted as saying his hero is himself in ten years – the self is inspiring, while others get their
inspiration from the people around them. Given people in positions of power tend to prioritise themselves over others and
can have poor perspective-taking and emotional recognition, it seems likely that these people would derive more inspiration
from themselves; which is exactly what Van Kleef and colleagues found.
They asked groups of students in Amsterdam and California to rate how powerful
they felt and what they found inspirational on a scale, and found a significant
relationship between power and inspiration from the self. This held true when they
were asked to discuss an event they found inspirational with another participant or
write about an inspirational event, with those who felt powerful tending to choose
stories about the self. Interestingly, the authors were able to manipulate the feeling
of power by asking participants to give an example of a time they had power over
others or a time others had power over them. Just thinking about an event were
they felt powerful made participants find themselves more inspirational.
As this study was performed with undergraduates and feelings of power rather
than with people who actually are in positions of power. This is a potentially
confounding variable, as more narcissistic people may feel more powerful and find
themselves inspirational, without any actual power to make them feel this way.
Perhaps you can test it out on your own boss and see if it holds true.
Van Kleef, G.A., Oveis, C., Homan, A.C., van der Lowe, I., Keltner, D. (2015). Power Gets You High: The Powerful Are More Inspired by Themselves Than by Others.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1-9.
INTRODUCTION TO BEHAVIOURAL SCIENCE –
A COURSE BY PROFESSOR PAUL DOLAN
Professor Paul Dolan, world-leading expert on happiness and one of our headline speakers at Nudgestock 3, is running
an unmissable one-day introduction to behavioural science. In this session, held at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden,
Paul will provide a taster of what we know about the way in which humans make decisions and the implications of this
for the public and private sectors. The course is for anyone who wants to understand and change behaviour, and will
help you understand some of the mistakes we make about human behaviour and wellbeing, gain insights into how to
influence client engagement and consumer behaviour, and become better equipped with the tools to create a happier,
healthier and more productive workplace.
This is an amazing opportunity to find out how the context of our decisions
can have a far greater influence than our cognitions from a leading authority
on behavioural science. We interviewed Paul to find out more about the
course, his book Happiness by Design and his experience of human
Paul Dolan is a Professor of Behavioural Science at the London School of
Economics and Political Science. As an internationally renowned expert on
happiness, behaviour and public policy, he conducts original research into the
measurement of happiness, its causes and consequences and has over 100
peer-reviewed publications. In 2010, he was seconded to the cabinet office to
embed the Mindspace report into policymaking which he co-authored. He has
previously worked with Daniel Kahneman at Princeton University, written the
questions for the Office for National Statistics in measuring wellbeing and he
regularly advises global corporations in behavioural economics. His
bestselling book Happiness by Design was published by Penguin in August
last year and has been bought by over ten countries worldwide.
OUR INTERVIEW WITH PAUL
What's your favourite example of context having an unexpected effect on behaviour?
We conducted an energy experiment where we tested the effects of offering people £100 to reduce their consumption
by 30% on its own and in combination with a social norm message. We had an 8% reduction with the incentive on its
own, but when we combined it with the social norm message, we saw no effect. We have some ideas about why we got
this unexpected finding and will test them in due course.
What's the main thing people will learn from the course?
Participants of the course will begin to understand the extent to which we don’t consciously know why we do what we
do. They will be given the tools to make them more likely to influence client, employee and consumer behaviour by
accounting for the effects unconscious and automatic processes have on what we do. Behaviour is more about context
than it is about cognition.
Your best-selling book, Happiness by Design, is all about deliberately changing
the environment to create happiness. How does your course build on this
In the book, I talk about designing your life in ways that make it easier for you to
experience more pleasure and purpose in everyday life and the course will demonstrate
how these insights can be applied to your life at work. Happier workers are more
productive and take less time off sick, so as well as designing situations and contexts,
we offer latest evidence behind the design elements of the work environment and the
huge effect they have on employee health and productivity.
During your career, the influence and popularity of behavioural science has
increased exponentially. What do you attribute this to?
If you think about it, who isn’t interested in human behaviour? People from all sorts of
disciplines are now beginning to discover the significance of the unconscious
processes which drive our behaviour. You are more likely to be honest if under bright
lights but more creative in darker environments. These sorts of insights are changing
the way we work, and live, and this is exciting. Don’t fall behind, the time to start is now.
Spotted: Loss aversion and social norms in a text from Three
Those scamps at Three aren’t new to using psychology to sell – like their
use of cute animals to appeal to system 1 – but this text suggests they may
have been listening to our principles of persuasion in the call centre, as
featured on Freakonomics. Here they use loss aversion: “we just don’t want
you to miss out,” and social norms: “hundreds of thousands of customers
already love it,” to ensure you download their Three inTouch app. They’re
further incentivising the download by reassuring you it “only takes 2 mins”
and “it’s free”. Combining nudges can have a multiplicative effect on
behaviour, known as the lollapalooza effect, and with an impressive total of
four in such a short message, it would almost be rude not to download it.
REAL LIFE NUDGE OF THE MONTH
Behavioural Boozeonomics with the London Behavioural Economics Network
Monday 13th April, 6.30-11.00pm
ICMBSE 2015 : 17th International Conference on Management, Behavioral Sciences and Economics
Thursday 16th – Friday 17th April
The World Beyond Your Head: How to flourish in an age of distraction, LSE
Monday 20th April, 6.30-8.00pm
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