Why?…that eternal question.
Why did you do that? We want to know why our friend, our children, our lover did that unexpected and ‘illogical’ thing.
For much of history it was assumed that we were logical and rational. So, why do we surprise ourselves and others every day?
Ask someone why they did what they did and you’ll often get one of two answers: ‘I’m not sure (or don’t remember)’ or ‘It seemed like the right thing at the time’.
There are many reasons for why we behave as we do. Pioneering work by Kahneman, Thaler and others has given insights into human behaviour which have profound implications for our economy and for business. Our behaviour is constantly influenced by ‘biases’.
These biases affect our purchases, the way we drive, who we fall in love with and how we behave. They are the algorithms that our brain uses determine our choices. Any business or organisation which ignores these fundamental behaviours is ignoring the potential to understand their audiences better.
Our plan is to discuss a different bias from time to time to reveal their practical implications.
The Choice Supportive Bias
Most humans have a natural tendency to rewrite parts of their past to show themselves in the best possible light. Much of our history is defined by the choices we make. Some are more important than others and, of course, there are bad decisions as well. However, there is a natural inclination in human behaviour to retroactively credit positive characteristics to an option one has selected. It often makes luck look like skill.
This has important implications for business. Today, in our highly connected and networked world there is a much greater interest in researching, usually online, a product or service before purchase. Manufacturers and retailers such as Amazon have understood the power of recommendations. These can be hugely influential in pre-purchase decision-making. But it is the usually overwhelming positive reviews that occur post purchase which help to cement the choice because we don't like to be wrong or admit to a poor decision. So we recast our selection to show that we made the right choice by describing the positive attributes whilst minimising the negatives.
Implications for business
Any business that doesn't take advantage of this cognitive bias to demonstrate its offering is losing free valuable PR. If a company doesn’t provide a forum for its customers to publicly bless and confirm their purchase decision then it will naturally leave them more open to dissatisfaction, returns and lost sales.
If you’d like understand how to reduce The Choice Supportive Bias’s impact in your organisation’s communications contact us on +44 (0)207 937 0106 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read about The Confirmation Bias here
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