Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Irresistible Pull of Irrational behaviour

A new book called 'Sway' sheds some light on irrational behaviour in human beings.
Some major, salient “sways” mentioned in the book.
  • We often overreact to potential losses, focused more on the short-term consequences rather than the longer-term effects.
  • The more meaningful a loss is, the more loss averse we become, meaning we don’t want to give up our hold on the loss (even when it’s economically, emotionally or otherwise beneficial to do so)
  • We hold on to the pervasive pull of commitment. When we are committed to a relationship, decision, or position in our lives, it can be very difficult for us to see the better, healthier alternatives available.
  • Humans have a tendency to imbue someone or something with certain qualities based on its perceived value rather than objective data. This is called value attribution.
  • If we see something labeled a certain way, we’ll take that label at face value.
  • When things are discounted off of their regular price, people tend to give the product or service a reduced value attribution. In other words, when we get a discount on something, we tend to unconsciously value it less than if we had paid full price.
  • Humans have a propensity to label people, ideas or things based on our initial opinions of them. The authors term this the “diagnosis bias,” and it includes our inability to reconsider those initial value judgments once we’ve made them.
  • A single word or label can color our entire perception of a person, closing off avenues of shared experience and seeing people for who they really are. Once a person is given a label (and even directly, a diagnosis), it’s hard for people to see people in a way that isn’t biased by that label.
  • “Mirror, mirror” effect – we like and look for people like us
  • We constantly sway others and are constantly being swayed by our expectations and labels — what is called the “Chameleon effect.”
  • It is vitally important for people to feel they have a voice. People want to be listened to and heard, even if nothing changes.
To end with the book offers no lasting solutions but to look at long term gains and perspectives than the short term ones. Now try explaining that to irrational beings...

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