Warm Gun: Doing The Right Things for The Wrong Reasons

by November 22, 2013

In his presentation at the Warm Gun Conference in San Francisco CA, Dan Ariely talked about the reasons people do things and how to influence their behavior. Here are my notes from his talk:

  • Big visions influence our wishful thinking but not our everyday actions.
  • Telling people what the right thing to do in principle is not the right way to motivate behaviors.
  • In the moment, we don't think about long term objectives. We act on the moment.
  • Knowledge is not the key. Adding calorie labeling on menus does not change behavior. Knowing something doesn't change your action. Calorie information does not provide any new information.
  • Knowledge is for later. Our immediate environment forces us to act: the sights, the smells, etc.
  • We never get to live in the future. We live in the present.
  • The consumer environment is designed to get you to do things that are good for companies.
  • 100 years ago, 10% of deaths were caused by bad decisions. Today 40% are. We have created more ways to kill ourselves. It's not just one decision, its the sum of many bad decisions.

Possible Solutions

  • Reward Substitution: connect something you don't want with something you do want.
  • Immediate rewards have a way to impact your behavior now. Use them to influence your long term decisions.
  • Can people actually care about global warming? No. It's a future state.
  • Instead influence their current state: Prius owners get to sit in a car and feel good, others get to see them.
  • Loss Aversion: people had loosing more than gaining. Pay people money up front.
  • Lottery: provide a lower percent chance of getting a bigger payout.
  • Regret: a contrast between where we are and where we could be.
  • People don't act with long term big goals but instead with short-term immediate rewards influenced by our immediate environment. We can use this to influence behavior.