I’ve been reading this amazing book called “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Khaneman, this book mainly outlines the biases in human thinking and how it affects our decision making. It is interesting to study how our perception of the world and about ourselves are heavily influenced by significant number of external and intrinsic factors. So I thought of making an article on few things I learned on the way. Please note that this article is not a summary or synopsis of the book as the original book is so rich in content and cannot compress to a one blog article, these are simply few selected key concepts that I thought worth sharing.
How about some French wine today?
I suggest you to put on your thinking hats and have a good look around; Are your thoughts influenced by the surrounding?
In an experiment, French and German music were played in a restaurant on alternating days and the amount of French wine versus German wine sold was measured. French wine was sold on days when French music was playing and more German wine was sold on the German music days.
That is called “Priming”.
Simply it’s a chain of stimulus reacts on one another. This can be auditory, visual or tactile. This explains how the exposure to one stimulus influences your response to a subsequent, related stimulus.
We all can experience priming during a walk down the street; when we turn on the television; sometimes while talking to our peers.
A research revealed that we can prime someone to walk more slowly by having them participated in a discussion on elderly people. They found that these young participants walked slower when leaving the experiment compared to how much it took them to arrive before the experiment.
A simple prime can have a significant effect on ourselves; our perception, our behaviors and emotions are deeply prejudiced by how we are primed.
What are your surroundings priming you for? What kind of message would you like your room or office to be sending? How could you change your environment to exploit the effects of positive priming?
Well it’s true! Positive priming fabricates positive outcomes. Negative priming fabricates negative outcomes.
I would rather drive than take the plane
News of a plane crash may lead you to avoid flying at all cost and take your car for long distance travelling. But the actual statistics suggest that you are 102 times more likely to die in a car crash than in plane crash. Or after hearing / reading of some startup success stories in the media we are likely to overestimate the percentage of startups that succeed; we even make investment decisions. Whereas in truth 90% of the startups fail in an average.
Most of us judge the likelihood of an event, or frequency of its occurrence by the readily available examples and instances come easily to our mind. Simply, based on the “Availability Bias”.
Have you ever experienced such type of “Availability Bias”?
The true case is this affects most of our day to day decisions without we are even noticing it. This may influence your investment decisions, charity decisions, business decisions even relationship decisions and so on.
“The world in our head is not a precise replica of reality. Our expectation about the frequency of events are distorted by the prevalence and emotional intensity of the message to which we are exposed”
– Daniel Kahneman–
Does how it end matters?
You might have had a healthy relationship with your partner for years and may have happen to end it terribly for some reason. As suggested by the Peak End Rule, people tend to remember the whole experience in a negative light by merely ignoring all the beautiful memories you had together.
Our brains don’t have the capacity to remember everything. Evolutionary, we preserve the memories that most aided our survival. The “peak-end rule” — remembering the most painful and pleasurable moments help us to avoid them or seek them out in the future.
“The peak-end rule is a psychological heuristic in which people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e. its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.”
We all are prone to this rule—a lot more than we think; when we are on a vacation, eating out in a restaurant, during shopping at a mall, working on a assigned project at the office and list goes on.
The secret is to be consciously aware of our own experiences. If we stay mindful, we can create more peak encounters with sensible endings. Yes! One day you will accept; such pleasant memories have led you to a more positive & peaceful life.
Be careful with the first information
We often rely too heavily on the preexisting or first piece of information we receive; the “Anchor”. Isn’t it?
In one experiment in a restaurant; first sets of customers are offered the wine menu in figure 01 where expensive wines are listed first. Most customers went for the £20 bottle as it seems a reasonable option compared or anchored to £75 bottle. Second set of customers are presented the same menu with a different pricing (figure 02) and this time most customers were willing to buy £75 bottle as it seems a reasonable option compared to £250 bottle.
The common tendency of all of us is to use the first information as a point of reference— let its subsequent actions estimates, arguments & conclusions be twisted in relation to it.The anchoring effect has a powerful impact on the choices we make. All this discounting is setting an anchored benchmark to create the illusion that you’re getting a great deal.
Make sure you won’t base your selection on an existing anchor point.
Next time be little conscious; take a minute; think on the possible impacts of the anchoring bias on your choice. Just reflect; are you giving enough attention to all available information & all possible options. If yes, now it’s the perfect time to you to take that important decision.
What you see is not what it seems always
Have you ever reacted to the same content— positively or negatively; on how it is furnished & phrased.
“fat free” VS “contains fat” —What would be your choice?
In one experiment two identical tubs of yoghurts were placed in a supermarket in two different shelves but in one set of yoghurts it was mentioned “20% fat” and in other “80% fat free”. At the end of the day it was identified that people are more likely to buy “80% fat free” even both are exactly the same.
What happens, if your doctor says that you have a brain tumor & there is 10% chance of you dying or not surviving? I affirm, you will suddenly be tensed. But instead; how you feel if he tells you that there is a good 90% chance for your survival? Yes! You will suddenly feel relieved.
True!!! Framing can play a crucial role in influencing your everyday decisions.
Take “Framing” as to generate an advantage for you, nor the negative manipulations.
Have an honest peep in to your life; see how you have framed your life. Have you over dramatized some few negative events of your life when there are so many positive things happening around you?
Regardless of what’s going on in our lives, we can always ‘reframe’ our situation. Positive framing isn’t spin or a denial of a negative event. It is a perspective that says there may be more to the outcome than just the current negative.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”
– Wayne Dyrer–