We Don’t Make Great Decisions

If you haven’t read The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton then you should and find out why sometimes we don’t make great decisions. Here is a brief summary from the section about Fundamental Attribution Error: Our behaviour is heavily influenced by the environment we are in (we underestimate the importance of context over personality). Trainee Priests were asked to complete a questionnaire to understand their motivation for going into the Church. They were then split into two groups: those who were motivated to help others versus those who wanted salvation for their own souls. They were asked to deliver a talk in another building. They were asked to hurry on to get there (Low rush, medium rush or high rush). Along the way they passed a person who was pretending to be in distress. The key discriminator as to if the trainee Priest stopped was the time he had rather than his values. The situation not the person determined behaviour. When people are busy they suffer from a narrowing of their cognitive mind — I.e., they don’t have the mental space to fully assess things widely, so are less likely to make quality decisions. Applications/Implications: 1. Don’t try to communicate to people when they are rushing. A study found recall jumped from 25% to 45% when viewing time increased from  less than a second to between 1-2 seconds. 2. Target contexts as well as target audience — Where and when the ad is placed heavily influences message take up.