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O BEHAVE!
Issue 22 • January 2016
Are Power Poses Actually Powerless? 3
Bias of the Month 4
Dangerous, Dubious & Embarrassing Design 5
Collective Memory Los...
ARE POWER POSES ACTUALLY POWERLESS?
You’ve probably seen Amy Cuddy’s TED talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, whic...
BIAS OF THE MONTH
The Impact Bias
Hoerger, M., Qurik, S.W., Lucas, R.E., & Carr, T.H. (2010). Judgement and Decision Makin...
DANGEROUS, DUBIOUS & EMBARRASSING DESIGN
Guest author – Daniel Bennett
Lockton, D., Harrison, D and Stanton, N. (2013). De...
COLLECTIVE MEMORY LOSS
The fallibility of our individual memories have been studied at length, from adding small details t...
WHO DO YOU TRUST TO “HAND OVER” YOUR BRAIN TO?
The messenger effect is a well-known principle in behavioural science that ...
Spotted: Salience in new HSBC app
HSBC have just released an app which aims to help customers
manage their finances more e...
Cíosa Garrahan
@CiosaGarrahan
ciosa.garrahan@ogilvy.com
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
Juliet Hodges
@hulietjodges
juliet.hodges@ogilvy...
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The latest round-up in psychology and behavioural economics from Ogilvy Change

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O Behave! Issue 22

  1. 1. O BEHAVE! Issue 22 • January 2016
  2. 2. Are Power Poses Actually Powerless? 3 Bias of the Month 4 Dangerous, Dubious & Embarrassing Design 5 Collective Memory Loss 6 Who Do You Trust to “Hand Over” Your Brain To? 7 Real Life Nudge of the Month 8 Upcoming Events 8 CONTENTS
  3. 3. ARE POWER POSES ACTUALLY POWERLESS? You’ve probably seen Amy Cuddy’s TED talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, which is one of the most- watched TEDs with almost 31 million views. In it, she discusses research she undertook with colleagues Carney and Yap to determine the effect of body language on our behaviour and the way others perceive us. Their findings suggested that people adopting high-power poses for two minutes - open, expansive postures, taking up more space - experienced an increase in testosterone and reduction in cortisol levels, coupled with an increase in risk-seeking behaviour and feelings of power. Meanwhile, those adopting low-power poses, slouching or hunching over and taking up less space, for the same amount of time experienced exactly the opposite. Ranehill, E., Dreber, A., Johannesson, M., Leiberg, S. Sul, S., & Weber, R.A. (2015). Assessing the Robustness of Power Posing: No Effect on Hormones and Risk Tolerance in a Large Sample of Men and Women. Psychological Science, 26 (5), 653-656. However, a new study attempting to replicate these findings failed to achieve a significant result, casting doubt on the conclusions of the original research (Ranehill et al, 2015). Using the same methodology, participants formed either high-power or low-power poses, although they moved into these poses themselves copying an image on a computer screen rather than being physically manipulated into the poses by the experimenter (as in Carney et al). These poses were held for the increased time of three minutes. This was followed by a task assessing risk tolerance: making several choices between a predetermined amount of money and an uncertain gamble, in gain and loss domains. Competitiveness was also measured, offering participants a choice between a tournament-style maths challenge or a non-competitive version of the exercise, and a questionnaire was administered to gauge feelings of power. Saliva samples were taken before and after, to assess hormone levels. The authors found that self-reported feelings of power were greater for the high-power pose participants, but this was the only effect to reach significance. Importantly, the poses had no effect on the more objective measures; hormones in the saliva sample or competitive and risk-taking behaviours. This failure to replicate the original findings calls their validity into question; Cuddy and colleagues have responded to this study, and other criticisms of their work, without accepting that their results may have been spurious. Standing tall and ‘fake it till you make it’-style confidence tips are so ubiquitous that this type of confirmatory research feels intuitively believable, and to an extent we all want these easy tricks to be effective. However, the work of Ranehill et al just demonstrates the importance of replicating studies to determine how real these effects really are.
  4. 4. BIAS OF THE MONTH The Impact Bias Hoerger, M., Qurik, S.W., Lucas, R.E., & Carr, T.H. (2010). Judgement and Decision Making, 5 (5), 365-373. We are terrible at estimating the intensity and duration of our emotional response to future events, an effect known as the impact bias. This applies equally to both positive and negative events; people overestimate how happy they would be after winning the lottery and for how long, and overestimate how unhappy they would be after becoming paraplegic. There are two possible explanations for why this happens. The first is focalism, which occurs when people focus just on the event in question and forget about everything else that could be going on at the time, positive or negative. The second is making sense of the of the situation; when something bad happens, we immediately start to try to find reasons why, and once we start to justify it we feel better. The same rationalisation occurs with positive events, although the effect of impact bias is less salient. It would seem that these affective forecasting errors should diminish after one instance of finding one’s estimate to be wrong, but evidence suggests we misremember our predictions in order to reduce this dissonance. Hoerger et al (2010) studied Democrats and Republicans before and after the 2004 US Presidential election, asking them to keep diaries recording their affective state and their predictions. Consistent with the impact bias, the Democrats had overestimated their unhappiness and the Republics their happiness at the Bush victory; however, they also underestimated their predictions before the election, assuming they had accurately estimated their emotional response. This is how the impact bias is perpetuated; we are never aware there is a cognitive error to correct.
  5. 5. DANGEROUS, DUBIOUS & EMBARRASSING DESIGN Guest author – Daniel Bennett Lockton, D., Harrison, D and Stanton, N. (2013). Design with Intent: 1-1 patterns for influencing behaviour through design. There are some amazing pieces of design in the world that shape our behaviour. A brilliant example from Dr Dan Lockton’s Design in Mind collection is that buttons at pedestrian road crossings (in the UK at least) are put on the side of the road to encourage you to look at the oncoming traffic before you walk. There are some ethically dubious pieces of design in supermarkets; for example, legend has it that some supermarkets may have smaller floor tiles on premium aisles in order to reduce your trolley speed and increase your dwell time. And there are some downright confusing pieces of design, with doors that you have to push come furnished with handles that encourage you to pull. But there have also been some very dangerous pieces of design. The North American T6 fighter plane, or ‘Harvard’ as the RAF called it, had a very counterintuitive cockpit. For example, to control the flaps forward is up and back is down, whereas to control the undercarriage forward is down and back is up. This led to the accidental trashing of multiple planes as the pilots retracted the undercarriage whilst still on the runway, just like mistakenly cleaning your window screen when you mean to put on your indicator in the car. One of the biggest global TV cock-ups in 2015 was the 65th Miss Universe competition, where Miss Colombia was mistakenly awarded first place, before the crown was given to Miss Philippines. There are many explanations as to why this may have occurred: the pressure on the presenters to get it right, the fatigue after a long show, or poor sound quality in the presenter’s ear piece being drowned out by the excited crowd. However, a closer inspection of the choice architecture of the presenter’s prompt card reveals to us a very embarrassing piece of design. The winner is clearly written on the bottom right of the card, but it’s the runner up labelling which is confusing. Second place is labelled as ‘1st Runner Up’ and third place as ‘2nd Runner Up’. It is no surprise given the high pressure context the presenters are in that they read out Miss Colombia as the winner live in front of millions of viewers. Maybe next time they would be better off using traditional first, second and third place labels.
  6. 6. COLLECTIVE MEMORY LOSS The fallibility of our individual memories have been studied at length, from adding small details to make a story more coherent to creating entirely false memories based on the power of suggestion, as studied by Elizabeth Loftus and colleagues. It would seem that collective memory – when a group of people are all looking back on the same event – should be much more reliable, as any misremembered items can be corrected by others with a more accurate view. This seems not to be the case, however; new research suggests collective memory is as bad, if not worse, than that of individuals. Collective memory is characterised by its smooth narrative structure; often only few key events stand out, and these will have a clear beginning, turning point and end point. One example of this is Americans’ recollections of the Second World War; the vast majority will pick out the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor (beginning), D-Day invasion of France (turning point) and dropping bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (end), while ignoring many other important events (Zaromb et al, 2014). This also explains why people remember WWII as the biggest human catastrophe of the twentieth century, despite the fact that Spanish flu may have killed up to double the number of people: a flu epidemic doesn’t have the same neat narrative. Stone, C.B., & Hirst, W. (2014). (Induced) Forgetting to form a collective memory. Memory Studies, 7 (3), 314-327. These memories naturally change and evolve over time; younger people, for example, see the bombing of Japan as an atrocity that claimed many innocent lives, while older people tend to see them more positively, as a the catalyst that brought the war to an end. Intriguingly, those in power seem to have some influence over the way these memories are shaped; one study surveyed residents of Belgium before and after a speech by the King in 2012, and found that those who heard the speech remembered less about the topics he mentioned afterwards (Stone & Hirst, 2014). This is because he highlighted only specific events, meaning those he didn’t mention started to fall out of the collective consciousness. This shows how fast and easy it can be for the memories of important events to be lost, and the opinions of whole populations to change – and why the crowdsourced information on Wikipedia may not be reliable enough to cite.
  7. 7. WHO DO YOU TRUST TO “HAND OVER” YOUR BRAIN TO? The messenger effect is a well-known principle in behavioural science that the person who communicates information to us has a significant influence on how much we engage with that information; we are more likely to act upon information from those in a position of authority and from those whom we perceive to be “like us”. This phenomenon has been demonstrated time and time again behaviourally, but a group a neuroscientists were interested to see whether this effect was observable in brain activations. To study this, 18 devout Christians and 18 secular participants were recruited and received intercessory prayer by speakers ostensibly from different religions: a non-Christian, a Christian and a Christian known for his healing power; although in reality, all speakers were Christian. Using fMRI, the neuroscientists observed whether there were changes in brain functions amongst participants when listening to the different speakers. Although no differences were found amongst the secular group, significant differences were found amongst the devout Christians. When the Christians were listening to the Christian speaker known for his healing powers, researchers found a massive deactivation in the frontal executive functions in their brain. The researchers noted it was as if these participants “handed over” these high- order functions to the speaker. Studies in the field of hypnosis have found similar effects, but only when the participants believed in hypnosis; just like the participants in the current study where the devout Christians believed in healing powers. Belief and trust in the authenticity of the messenger is crucial. Schjoedt, U., Stødkilde-Jørgensen, H., Geertz, A. W., Lund, T. E., & Roepstorff, A. (2010). The power of charisma—perceived charisma inhibits the frontal executive network of believers in intercessory prayer. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 6 (1), 119-127. Trust is central to this finding. Previous studies have reported increased activation (rather than deactivation) in participants’ frontal executive function in response to trusted people like experts. Although the current study showed a deactivation, a noticeable difference between the research methodologies is that in the previous studies that have shown activation, participants were asked to actively engage with the information from the expert. Trust in the current “passive” paradigm does not involve participants actively engaging, as they were told to just relax and listen. This research gives a neural explanation of the messenger effect and we should all remember that who relays a message is just as important as and the content of the message itself.
  8. 8. Spotted: Salience in new HSBC app HSBC have just released an app which aims to help customers manage their finances more effectively using real time data and behavioural principles. Many people purchase coffee on a daily basis and perceive the cost to be minimal, therefore never engaging with how much of their money they actually spend on it. HSBC wanted to make the amount spent on these purchases more salient to their customers in attempt to make them more aware of their expenditures. By presenting this information in a novel manner via monthly outgoings instead of individual purchases, HSBC is likely to make their customers re-evaluate their expenditure on what is perceived to be a low-cost item and make an informed choice on whether they want to continue this spending pattern. REAL LIFE NUDGE OF THE MONTH UPCOMING EVENTS Behavioural Boozeonomics with the London Behavioural Economics Network Monday 8th February, 7.00-10.30pm The Comedy Pub, Piccadilly Beyond Nudges: Risk, Psychology and Choice Architecture in Policy Wednesday 10th February 1.30-6.00pm City University 2nd Behaviour Change Conference: Digital Health and Wellbeing Wednesday 24th - Thursday 25th February UCL
  9. 9. Cíosa Garrahan @CiosaGarrahan ciosa.garrahan@ogilvy.com BROUGHT TO YOU BY Juliet Hodges @hulietjodges juliet.hodges@ogilvy.com
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    Jan. 29, 2016

The latest round-up in psychology and behavioural economics from Ogilvy Change

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