Everything on ‘Psychology’

Why choice is bad

One of the great regular TEDTalks contributors, Barry Schwartz, held a lecture about why the amount of choice we have in our lives is a bad thing. I just found the lecture on Youtube and while the TEDTalk was already held in July 2005, I think it’s still valuable.

Why choice makes  people miserable:

  1. Regret and anticipated regret
  2. Opportunity costs
  3. Escalation of expectations
  4. Self-blame

The best quote: “The secret to happiness is … low expectations.” (Barry Schwartz, 2005)

Watching this video should be life-changing for marketeers and will change the way they approach portfolio management and the choice (=responsibility) they give consumers: » More: Why choice is bad

Lack of sleep helps make optimistic decisions

Sleep deprivation makes flipping coin look like good odds

Sleep deprivation makes flipping coin for profit look like good odds

Entrepreneurship is about taking risks. Calculated risks. Top managers take big decisions every day. They have busy schedules and some only sleep a few hours a day. Research now shows that sleep-deprivation makes decision making easier. Not better though. Ever seen a CEO that always presents optimistic plans? It might be because of his lack of sleep.

According to an article in the Journal of Neuroscience described on physorg.com, sleep-deprived individuals in a study “tended to make choices that emphasized monetary gain, and were less likely to make choices that reduced loss”. The study is the first that shows that lack of sleep impacts the way the brain assesses economic value, increasing sensitivity to positive consequences and decreasing  sensitivity to possible negative consequences of decisions. » More: Lack of sleep helps make optimistic decisions


Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner shows how statistics can be used to explain a wide range of phenomena or maybe even EVERYTHING that people do in the world. Levitt and Dubner base their analysis of the world on three basic flavors of incentive: Economic, social and moral incentives. A combination of these incentives explains all human behavior, according to the authors. And they use numbers to prove it. Most importantly, they manage to do that in an easy to understand way. This way, they explain for example what schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common, and why drug dealers still live with their moms. » More: Freakonomics

Choice as a detractor

Don't make jam of your portfolio

Don't make jam of your portfolio

A friend once told me a story of an experiment conducted in a supermarket. In two different time periods the supermarket offered two kinds of portfolios of jam. In the first setup the shop offered a number of shelves  with numerous kinds of jam. Different fruits, different pot sizes and different brands. Many choices. In the second setup the supermarket  offered a single large shelf of strawberry jam of brand x in one standard pot size. One choice. What was the result? Contrary to expectations, more jam was sold in the single strawberry jam setup.

Why? Because people hate complicated choices. » More: Choice as a detractor

Multitaskers perform lousy when multitasking

Multitasking as it should be - Inspector Gadget

Multitasking as it should be - Inspector Gadget

A Stanford study on multitasking performance, published in August and sited in NRC this weekend, showed that frequent media-multitaskers perform less when having to focus on multiple information sources than typical non-multitaskers. This can be explained by assuming that the typical media-multitaskers are actually not good at focusing or concentrating on a task at hand. They basically cannot choose the relevant information sources. Surprisingly the media-multitaskers group indicated to be quite good at handling the different information sources, while the actual results of the study show otherwise.

“We kept looking for what they’re better at, and we didn’t find it,” said Ophir, the study’s lead author and a researcher in Stanford’s Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab.

At the same time, companies are requiring their people to be tuned in to more and more information sources, like email, mobile and even twitter while the research shows it to be counterproductive.

Hartman Event on content management and Kano’s model

Here’s  a summary of the Hartman Event on content management I recently visited.

Although seemingly quite IT oriented, the Hartman Event on content management turned out to be very consumer focused instead. This was also due to the attention for social media.

This event was made possible by suppliers of content management systems and services. However, as opposed to other events I have seen, the participants really had something useful to contribute and did not explicitly use the opportunity to sell their product. Next year the event will put user experience central, so this promises to be very interesting.

One of the interesting lectures explained the success of a new website created by the speaker’s company. He explained how the Kano model was used to manage the different kinds of needs. In line with the model, needs were divided into three categories:

  • Basic needs: needs that need to be satisfied. When not fulfilled, the user will be dissatisfied, but beyond a certain degree of fulfillment they do not contribute to higher satisfaction. For example: the presence of a steering wheel in a car, or the availability of a website.
  • Performance needs: the higher degree of fulfillment, the higher the satisfaction. For example: the number of horse powers of the engine of the car, or the speed of a website.
  • Experience needs: when not fulfilled the user will not be dissatisfied, but once fulfilled they contribute strongly to a higher satisfaction. For example: an extra audio plug in the back of the car for connecting an MP3 player or functionality to extract a product catalog from a website for offline use.

This model can be applied to many cases in which diverse consumer needs need to be identified or prioritized.