Modern Wisdom Podcast with Chris Williamson – Richard Shotton: 8 Fascinating Psychological Biases Podcast Summary

Modern Wisdom: #592 – Richard Shotton – 8 Fascinating Psychological Biases | Free Podcast Summary

Modern Wisdom Podcast with Chris Williamson – Richard Shotton: 8 Fascinating Psychological Biases

As an expert in the world of models, psychology, consumer behavior, and principles for advertising and social change, Richard Shotton (@rshotton) knows just how to exploit the human brain’s cheat codes to get it to believe, do and change in unexpected ways

Behavioural science

  • Behavioral science (social psychology) is the study of how people actually behave, rather than how they claim to behave
  • Anyone who is an entrepreneur, marketer, or trying to influence others should be interested in behavioral science because they are in the business of behavior change
  • The relevance of Behavioral science lies in its ability to help individuals and organizations change behavior effectively
  • Behavioral science relies on experiments and empirical evidence to validate its findings, making it more reliable than theories based on logic alone
  • Behavioral science can help entrepreneurs create products and services that appeal to customers, marketers design persuasive messages, and leaders motivate and influence their teams

Stated vs revealed preferences in human behaviour

  • When people are asked about their preferences, they may self-edit or give socially acceptable answers (e.g. mating market)
  • Data on actual mating behavior shows that people’s actions often differ from what they say
  • For example, women may say they are fine with dating a man who is the same height or education level as them, but they often end up choosing partners who are taller and more educated
  • This is not to say that people are intentionally being deceptive, but rather that they may not be fully aware of their own motivations
  • The observer effect, where people’s behavior changes when they know they are being watched, can also impact self-reported preferences

Habit formation – The seamless way

  • There’s a lot of research by psychologists into habit formation, which breaks down into two broad areas: heuristics and repeating behaviors
  • People have so many decisions to make every day that they don’t have the time or energy to make fully considered decisions
  • Thinking is effortful and energy-intensive, so people ration their capability to think deeply
  • Habits are a coping strategy for people to deal with the overwhelming number of decisions they need to make
  • People rely on heuristics or repeat the same behaviors when faced with similar situations to conserve their cognitive resources
  • Predictable moments weaken habits and make people more open to change, such as at the start of a new time period, the beginning of the year, month, or week, after birthdays, and after public holidays

Making it easy

Most people try to increase motivation and make the audience desire the behavior they want to encourage

Removing or adding small bits of friction to any process can have a disproportionate effect on adoption and motivation from the end user/customer.

  • Experts underestimate the importance of friction and overestimate the importance of motivation, leading them to have the wrong model of human behavior
  • From this argument, the psychologists suggest that many businesses misallocate their resources, spending too much time and effort motivating an audience to want the product and too little time and effort on making it as easy as possible to get the product.

Friction to influence behaviour

  • The concept of friction in marketing involves adding barriers or obstacles to a customer’s journey toward a purchase
  • There are nuances to studies that suggest adding friction can change behavior and perception of the product value
  • Friction can be used strategically to influence customer behavior and perception of a product
  • The Ikea Effect study found that the more effort someone puts into creating or building a product, the more they appreciate it
  • Adding a small amount of friction can be effective in improving the perceived value and quality of a product
  • A study by Ryan Buell found that adding a slight delay and a loading bar to a travel comparison website improved customers’ perception of the site’s comprehensiveness

The generation effect

  • The generation effect is about balancing ease and difficulty to create an ad that is memorable but not forgettable 
  • An ad needs to be easy enough for people to understand but also provide a role for the consumer to generate their answer
  • The generation effect works best when applied creatively to harness the general insight of the study rather than sticking to it completely literally
  • Posing a statement as a question boosts credibility and believability, but the success of that depends on the prestige the brand holds.
  • If the brand is admired, it works very well; if the brand is a low status or unadmired, it works quite badly

Youtube thumbnail behavioural science

  • Watch time and retention are affected by editing and the first 5-15 seconds of the video
  • Mr. Beast spends between $10,000 and $30,000 on each thumbnail and has hundreds of options for each video
  • The average number of characters in the top video of the suggested feed is 44, and certain words that invoke a powerful or aggressive response can increase clicks
  • Fast cuts and a fast pace are becoming more popular, as seen in Fast and Furious 9 and TikTok
  • Mr. Beast’s most recent video employed a new tempo of cuts within the edit
  • Many factors go into optimizing thumbnails and titles, including the use of eyes, colors, arrows, and punctuation

Concrete facts are better remembered

  • Canadian psychologist Ian Begg conducted a study in 1972 at the University of Western Ontario
  • Begg recruited 25 students and read out a list of 22-word phrases, consisting of 50 concrete phrases (e.g., “Square door” or “white horse”) and 50 abstract phrases (e.g., “subtle truth” or “basic fact”)
  • After reading through the lists of words, the students were asked to recall as much as they could
  • Begg found that the students remembered 36 of the concrete words (72%) and only 9% of the abstract words, a massive four-fold change in memorability
  • Begg’s explanation for this finding is that vision is the most powerful of our senses and concrete words are more easily picturable, memorable, and sticky in our minds, while abstract words are forgettable

Vibe architects

  • Podcasters are “vibe architects” who aim to create a vibe and convey what cannot be conveyed within a book or summary
  • Adam Mastriani’s sub stack called Experimental History takes down peer review and pirates a study he did to bypass journals and peer review. He laments why people forget things they learn and only remember the vibe
  • Stories make dry topics easier to learn and remember. Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money, James Clear’s Atomic Habits, and David Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me are story-heavy books that make their topics more engaging
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