Predictably Irrational
Predictably Irrational
  • Reporter Chung Yu-un
  • 승인 2013.10.16 12:11
  • 댓글 0
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Although we assume that our impulsive behaviors are unpredictable, the novel, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions written by Dan Ariely, claims that there are patterns to our irrational behaviors. For example, how many times have we impulsively bought items off our shopping list? In the website of a magazine, the Economist, there are three choices for subscriptions. The one year online subscription costs US $59.00, the print subscription costs US $125.00, and the print and online subscription together costs US $125.00. Which one would you go for? Among 100 students, 16 students went for the first option, while the rest of the 84 students went for the third option. Because no one chose the second option, it was thought that there would be no difference even if that choice was deleted. The results, however, showed that relativity of the choices was a strong factor for the students’ choices. 68 students chose the online subscription, while only 32 students chose the online and print subscription. By assuming that we make our choices on the basis of relativity, marketing companies can somewhat direct our choices of what to purchase, making it seem to be a completely impulsive choice.
Another example involves the effect of expectations. There is a common saying that the “mind gets what it expects.” When we compare Pepsi with Coke, can we really differentiate which tastes better? Pepsi proclaimed that when people chosen at random tasted Pepsi and Coke, more responded favoring Pepsi, while the Coke stated the opposite results. The different results came from the different methods of experiment. While Pepsi had hidden the brand names, Coke had exposed the brands. To undercover the situation, a group of neuroscientists had used a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine to monitor the participants’ brains in the blind and non-blind taste test of Pepsi and Coke. It was observed that when participants had a sip of the known brand of soda, the dorsolateral aspect of the prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) was stimulated. This is an “area involved in higher human brain functions like working memory and associations” and is connected to the pleasure center. For those who had as stronger preference for Coke, the response was stronger. It is ironic how our behaviors seem irrational, yet predictable.