As the enthusiasm for applied behavioural science spreads across the globe, it is time to think how well "irrationality" travels. This is the start of an article series exploring the impact of factors such as cultural context on decision making - and how our understanding of the human mind is based on a thin slice of humanity.
Using cognitive mechanisms (commitment, loss aversion, social norms and suchlike), I hacked myself to boost my motivation for exercise and healthy habits, get in shape and lose 15 kilos (33 pounds)… all in a record six months.
In the typical self-control experiment, participants are given a choice between a hedonic vice-food (e.g., chocolate) and a utilitarian virtue-food (e.g., fruit). Choosing the hedonic vice is interpreted as a self-control failure. We argue that self-control failures are better captured as choices that violate one’s long-term goals and induce regret. Accordingly, the consumption of hedonic food is not necessarily a self-control failure, and self-control does not necessarily entail a trade-off between pleasure and health. Our conceptualization has far-reaching consequences for consumers and policy-makers who try to help consumers exert self-control.
Advertisers often depict their products being consumed in a social setting, but increasingly they also depict people secretly consuming their products. Will consumers like a product more if they are prompted to consume it in secret? New research explores this question, finding that prompting women to think about consuming products in secret has an impact, not only on product evaluations, but also on behavior and willingness to pay for those products. The authors refer to this effect as the “secrecy effect.”
Many of us say we care about our privacy, but often disclose personal information. This asymmetry is called the “privacy paradox”. This phenomenon is only a paradox, however, if we assume people are rational or engage in rational disclosure decision-making. Taking into account our cognitive biases and the way online platforms are designed, it comes as no surprise that our disclosure behavior doesn’t always match our privacy preferences.
Consumers often use online reviews as a source of information in their decisions to purchase products and services. In our research, we examine a novel cue that consumers use to infer whether a review is effortful and credible: an indication that the review was written on a mobile device. Implications of this research may impact how brands and online platforms choose to encourage and disseminate consumer-generated-content.
People use awards to incentivize positive behaviors all the time. Our research shows that, in some contexts, awards do not work and can even demotivate the target behavior. We find that awards might send unintended signals to recipients about the social norms and institutional expectations for the target behavior. Organizations and leaders considering using awards should know that awards can have more complicated consequences that might be intuitively expected.
Charities have different moral objectives. Some seek to promote welfare (e.g., Red Cross), but others seek to promote justice and equality (e.g., ACLU). We demonstrate how these different charities can employ specific positive emotions in their campaigns to nudge donations. Charities that seek to promote welfare should utilize compassion in their campaigns, but charities that seek to promote equality in society should utilize gratitude in their campaigns.
Consumers regularly track their expenses and assign them to categories like food, entertainment, and clothing, which is popularly known as mental accounting. Our research shows that consumption biases that result from mental accounting are not prevalent in Easterners due to their holistic thinking style, whereas Westerners exhibit such biases due to their analytic thinking style.
Human behavior is remarkably complicated. And yet, just as Newton's laws of motion distill three fundamental truths about the physical world, the three laws of human behavior describe three fundamental truths of human behavior: People tend to stick to the status quo unless the forces of friction or fuel push us them off their path; behavior is a function of the person and their environment; every decision includes tradeoffs and the potential for unintended consequences.