Dan Ariely asks, Are we in control of our decisions?

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, uses classic visual illusions and his own counterintuitive (and sometimes shocking) research findings to show how we’re not as rational as we think when we make decisions.

It is hard to overcome intuition even when we are shown that our intuition is wrong – when proof is taken away, we still feel connected to our intuition.

Because of this thought, what is to say these things don’t occur in areas that have large importance?

Some countries give away their organs in a huge percentage after death – some none at all. Yet the connectivity of “culture” does not relate to the organ donation percentages. The countries that have a low organ donation participation rate are because they have a box they have to check to donate – the ones that have a high rate don’t have to check a box at all, but rather have to check the box to opt out.

The implication is actually that the designer essentially controls our decisions rather than us.

Because the problem is so complex and we have no idea what to do, we default to whatever answer is chosen for us. This is the incredible power of the “default”.

By adding a “useless” option, you can actually use it to frame people towards what they want. For example, imagine this scenario:

Print subscription: $5

Web subscription: $20

Print + Web Subscription: $20

In this scenario, nobody picks the web subscription only. However, when you eliminate the “web subscription option”, more people actually choose the print option, because the web subscription increases the perceived value of the print + web subscription.

Another example is if an uglier version of you is with a similarly equal person (in terms of attractiveness), your ugly twin will improve your perceived value.

When we think about and design more important scenarios like retirement and healthcare, these realities can be implemented to design a better world, rather than using it only for monetary gain.

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