Psychology for gamers

How to Win at Rock-Paper-Scissors

“No washing dishes for me tonight.” Beat my sister at a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS). I was 10 years old and RPS was our “go to” game of fate to decide all kinds of important issues. Little did I know that RPS was not a game of chance, but a strategic system with a strong psychological foundation. RPS probably dates back to the Han Dynasty in China (206 BC – 220AD). The game, known as “sansukumi-ken” in Japan (hand, three-way, deadlock), has used fingers and hands to represent a variety of different symbols in addition to rock, paper, and scissors, including slugs, poisonous centipedes, frogs, hunters. By the 20th century, RPS spread to the west. English names such as roshambo, ick-ack-ock, ching-chang-walla, or stone-paper-scissors have also been used. ….[READ]


Trading psychology and meditation

The Long Marriage of Mindfulness and Money

Last month, on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Deepak Chopra described the usefulness of meditation for people on Wall Street. Speaking about a friend who manages a hedge fund, he said, “His entire staff meditates. I know many others now on Wall Street that we teach, actually. It makes them much more productive, because they’re centered, they’re not distracted.” Chopra was appearing on TV to promote a free twenty-one-day online meditation course that he offers with Oprah. Its theme is “Manifesting True Success.” Meditation, like yoga before it, has been fully assimilated into corporate America. Aetna, General Mills, and Goldman Sachs all offer their employees free in-office meditation training. In January, the Times reported on a packed panel at Davos where members of the global élite “professed that meditation gave them a competitive advantage.”  ….[READ]


Tips for thinking

Outsmart Your Own Biases

Suppose you’re evaluating a job candidate to lead a new office in a different country. On paper this is by far the most qualified person you’ve seen. Her responses to your interview questions are flawless. She has impeccable social skills. Still, something doesn’t feel right. You can’t put your finger on what—you just have a sense. How do you decide whether to hire her? You might trust your intuition, which has guided you well in the past, and send her on her way. That’s what most executives say they’d do when we pose this scenario in our classes on managerial decision making. The problem is, unless you occasionally go against your gut, you haven’t put your intuition to the test. You can’t really know it’s helping you make goo choices if you’ve never seen what happens when you ignore it. ….[READ]


How you change your mind

What happens to today’s opinions tomorrow?

Byron Sharp’s How Brands Grow is the only marketing text I refer to on a regular basis. It’s well written and pulls no punches. His conclusions are based on single source datasets tracking attitudes and purchasing over time, giving them rigor and power. The evidence he presents on the unstable nature of attitudes is particularly useful (p102). Brand imagery statements we all know and love (e.g. “Is a brand a trust” “Offers VFM” “Tastes nice” etc) often show broadly stable agreement over time. Sharp’s insight is that when you ask the same people the same question over time their answers are often different. The repeat rate for attitudes is around 50%. So for example if 45% agree brand x tastes nice in Q1, and 45% agree in Q2, evidence from single source datasets show that half the people “voting” for brand x have changed their minds since being asked previously. ….[READ]


The tyranny of choice

The Next Big Thing In Design? Less Choice

Recently, I decided to buy Monopoly to play with my son. What I was sure would be a quick decision on Amazon turned into a learning experience for both of us. Did you know there are 2,767 versions of Monopoly on the market and that the original version is not the easiest to find? My attempt at an impulsive purchase turned into a draining, in-depth research and decision-making exercise. It’s undebatable that technology has made our lives more convenient, but it has also subjected us to a tyranny of choice. Thanks to the Internet, I can have anything I want delivered to my door for dinner. The same goes for shopping, finding information, playing games, or choosing a movie to watch. The Internet has given us an abundance of choice and an abundance of information to inform those choices. The end result is that our lives are burdened with approximately 35,000 decisions a day. ….[READ]

Waste water in the world. Grass die and all life on the Earth.

Using social norms for water conservation

Testing the Waters: Using Simple, Low-cost Nudges to Reduce Water Consumption

With a six-fold increase in global water use over the last century, the availability of fresh water has emerged as a critical issue for environmental sustainability. Water scarcity is an issue that policymakers must address with urgency — states like California already face one of the worst droughts in history. The United Nations estimates that by 2025 over two-thirds of the world’s population will reside in regions considered water-stressed. Although policymakers have made great strides in developing new approaches to stave off this pending crisis, the traditional methods such as educational awareness campaigns and variable rate pricing have not always curbed people’s day to day water use as expected. But what about using our knowledge of human behavior? Given the successful application of behavioral interventions or “nudges” in other environmental contexts, such as reducing energy consumption using social norms, we might expect that that these tools could also work well for water conservation. ….[READ]


Advertising with God

God Can Help Companies Turn Customers Into Daredevils

God is often portrayed as a benevolent father figure, or a protective force. But how about a different image of God: the marketing force? New research shows that when consumers are presented with the concept of the divine, even in an offhand manner or an ad on social media, it can prompt them to take risks they might otherwise not. Like trying a new product or experience, even one with a bit of danger. This finding, which adds a counterintuitive twist to existing research about God and risk-taking, comes from scholars at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and was published in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science in February. ….[READ]