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Why do we all lie?

Professor Dan Ariely new study via his book “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty” proves that we are all dishonest people especially with ourselves. We do wrong things all the time and feel that we are not dishonest and it was ok to do that thing. In our mind, we don’t cheat, our mind has a mechanism to rationalize  these events.

 

Have you ever lied to your boss with a more convincing tale when you got late for a meeting? Do you think that it is ok to take office stationary home? Are you likely to cheat in an exam when the supervisor is not around and you know that you need to pass the exam or else you won’t make it through the semester? While claiming your office expenses, have you ever added a couple of personal bills to the list as well?

liar

We think that minor cheating is justified. The stories we tell ourselves to rationalize those events are well justified! Dr. Ariely may even call this wishful blindness.

 

We get pleasure when we think that we are honest and moral people. On the other hand we benefit from cheating. Rationalization allows us to do a bit of cheating and feel good about ourselves. Some people who are more creative then others tell better stories to themselves. The more creative a person is, the better story he has to rationalize our actions.

 

When it comes to stealing cash, a person might hesitate. But stealing a pen or pencil, we might be able to rationalize it. Stories like, everybody does it or it was put there for purpose.

Apart from creativity, environment is another factor. In fact, environment as per him is the main factor, creativity only adds to it. Fudging with the taxes, driving over speed when cops are not around. People who are more creative tend to go to places that offer more flexibility.

 

What can we do about it? Dr. Ariely has attempted to answer this. Creativity is a very useful thing. Its creativity, biased incentives and flexibility, dishonesty is the concoction of the three. So, to put it simply, conflicts of interest should be eradicated, rules of judgment should be clear and no biased incentives should be there.  Creativity should be promoted but with caution.

Some examples to stop this include: getting the students to sign an honor pledge before writing an exam,  ensuring that the exam environment is free from distortions as our tendency to cheat increases in we receive poor service etc.

 

Mirk

Why shouldn’t we talk about our New Year’s Resolutions?

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Photo courtesy: imdb

More Guns more risk!

Will you feel less safe in an 800 cc hatchback or a 2400 cc SUV?  My take would be the hatchback.  Will the person driving the hatchback be more cautious while driving than the driver of SUV? The answer is the driver of the hatchback. Obviously, it varies from person to person, but the risk taking tendency of a person increases while driving a SUV in comparison to that of the hatchback.

 

big-car-little-car

 

In accordance with John Adams’ theory on risk management, every individual has a specific level of risk taking capability up to which they are comfortable. If their sense of safety is increased, say by an ABS or a fancy safety feature, the risk taking capability of that individual will also increase. The safer we feel, the more risky our behavior tends to be.

 

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that we should not buy the SUV if we can and want to. But what I am trying to say is: safer cars does not imply safer roads. The legislation needs to change and the traffic safety engineering needs to be redesigned to accommodate these vagaries of human behavior, especially in countries like India.

The same phenomenon is applicable to other facets of life, for example: Guns!

 

Mirk (Sahil Bansal)

Why shouldn’t we talk about our New Year’s Resolutions?

Why do people Overshare on Facebook, Twitter?

Why are Monday mornings miserable?

Why do we like video games?

Why did Adam Lanza kill 26 innocents?

Why Indian Men Rape?

Photo courtesy: carsuk.net

The concept of Impulse buying as a marketing tool has been explored since the 1950’s. Impulse buying can happen anytime and anywhere.

soldsie

Has this ever happened to you? You look at an offer that seems so very attractive at that time that you think it would be foolishness to avoid it and hence you purchase it. After some time you realize that that purchase was not really necessary. I am sure it has happened to most of us. It is the instant gratification of that moment of making that purchase which leads us to that trap.

Social media and ecommerce has further enhanced our impulse buying tendencies. Now we can buy anytime and anywhere. Advertisements with seemingly lucrative offers are all over our emails, work pages, personal pages, social networks, in fact anything we view on the internet.

Soldsie has gone to the next level to lure consumers into impulsive buying by uniquely combining social media and ecommerce. The concept is simple. If you have something to sell, post a picture on Facebook, if a user wants it, just comment ‘sold’ and Soldsie will do the rest. The concept is very powerful.  It costs nothing to say sold and to avoid cognitive dissonance people are more likely to make the purchase once they have made a commitment in front of the world. The process is almost frictionless. Whether good or bad, Soldsie’s ‘comment commerce’ has been successful in further enhancing our tendency to buy impulsively.

Mirk(Sahil Bansal)

Why shouldn’t we talk about our New Year’s Resolutions?

Why do people Overshare on Facebook, Twitter?

Why are Monday mornings miserable?

Why do we like video games?

Why did Adam Lanza kill 26 innocents?

Why Indian Men Rape?

Photo Courtsey: CrunchBase

One of the most effective tools for Marketers and Advertisers is fear. They employ fear to sell products and services, their attempt to scare us into submission. Coupled with stark facts like “Every thirty seconds, someone dies of a heart attack” or “50% less fat than the leading brand” it becomes an almost invincible selling strategy.

Fear Ad

Sinister ads are being used by all companies these days. It is no more limited to pharmaceutical or insurance companies. Car brands are using crash test dummies to scare people, car tire companies are showing close saves due to better grip and batteries’ advertisements are showing instances of children wandering out of mother’s sight.  Some statistics say that about 50% of all advertisements are playing on fear.

Car Ad 2

Consider hand sanitizing products; everybody is using them now all the time, even though it hasn’t helped in removing swine flu, the reason it was introduced originally. All sorts of companies are using this element and this has gone so far that companies have become irrational in using fear as a tool.

Why are so many companies using fear in their advertising and why is it such a powerful tool? The reason is quite simple.

Fear in one of the most primitive emotions that evokes a strong response.  We have been doubtful about a lot of things right from birth. Advertisers and marketers exploit this weakness, the fear of unknown to connect with the consumers.  They tell us what bad might happen in case we don’t do what they say. Just as sex sells, fear sells too.

Fear may be one of the most effective tools for marketers but it has a flip side too.  In the cases, where public interest and the advertisers’ interests are not congruent, people might actually start to think negatively of the company.  Secondly, if not used properly, fear as an element might actually have a counter effect. A smoker might actually want to light a cigarette seeing an advertisement which says “Don’t Smoke”.

Advertisers need to realize these aspects. The age old saying “make them sick, then make them better” might not always work.

Mirk (Sahil Bansal)

Understanding Viral Videos: PSY’s Gangnam Style

Got a New Year’s Resolution? Shush… Don’t talk about it!

Delhi Gang Rape: Why Indian Men Rape?

Image courtesy: Wacktrap, Autoblog

The Kumbh festival starts tomorrow in Allahabad, India. Stretching over 56 days, 100 million pilgrims are expected to visit Allahabad to take a dip in the holy waters of Sangam, which is the confluence of river Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.  It is the largest religious gathering in the world. For those unaware, the Kumbh mela (mela means festival or fair in Hindi) is an Indian festival held once every 12 years. Legend has it when gods were fighting demons for the nectar of immortality; a few drops fell in some places where Kumbh Mela is held now – Allahabad, Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain.

 

Kumbh_Mela

 

So every few years, millions of believers from across the continent swarm these places in the hope to be freed from the vicious cycle of life and death by taking a dip in the holy waters.  Nothing deters them from entering into one of the most polluted rivers in the country. Such is their faith. This brings me to a very important question. Why do we hope? Why do we try to maintain our grasp on what is already slipping through our fingers?

 

We are weak beings. We long and therefore we aspire. All those things that we don’t have or that we are not; we want to achieve and we want to be. Even if one is happy (that being seldom the case); we want to be happier. Hope gives us that motivation. It is preordained in our nature. It gives us value; it gives us comfort and direction.  It gives us strength. I am not saying it is a bad thing; instead it is a good and logical thing.

 

Hope suggests a future. Without a future there is no progress and we all like progress. Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption was not wrong in saying “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing…”.

 

Mirk

Why shouldn’t we talk about our New Year’s Resolutions?

Why do people Overshare on Facebook, Twitter?

Why are Monday mornings miserable?

Why do we like video games?

Why did Adam Lanza kill 26 innocents?

Why Indian Men Rape?

 

Photo Courtsey: Wikipedia

Every year millions of us vow to quit smoking, curb spending, lose weight, drink less or join a gym on the 1st of January. Very few of us actually go past the first week and stick to our resolutions. There are various reasons. Some of these are elementary. It is common sense that a New Year’s resolution to lose 10 pounds in 4 months has more chances of being a success than the one to lose 100 pounds. Dividing the goal further into smaller steps and rewarding yourself after completion of each step increases the chances of success. Writing about your goals and how they will make you happy will help further.

 

darwin_shush

 

But one reason that is not so elementary and might miss the eye is that we should not talk about our New Year’s resolutions. Sounds strange? Let me try to explain it.

When we announce our New Year’s resolutions to friends and family; the act of their approval and appreciation provides us a satisfaction that is similar to that of completion of the goal. This premature sense of completeness attenuates our motivation to work hard enough. So we undermine our own efforts right from the start.

 

A better information to share, if you want to, would be the steps that you would be taking during the course. Sharing your goals point blank might not be a very good idea.

Happy New Year!

 

Mirk (Sahil Bansal)

My Favorite Post of the Month

Photo Credit: chrisgomersall.me

Gamification: The Game has begun!

We all like playing games and games are important in our life as they help us to achieve a lot, psychologically. There has been a lot written about why we like to play games but I couldn’t agree more to the reasons Dr. Scott Rigby pointed out based on his research. As per his research the first reason why we play games is competence – our need to feel successful, the desire to know that we are growing in our knowledge and our accomplishments. The second is relatedness – we like to feel that we matter to others and we also like to feel that we are making a significant contribution to the society. The last one is autonomy – our desire to feel independent, a desire to have a control over our actions. Since, in the virtual world these things are easy to achieve, we tend to resort to gaming and more importantly enjoy it. And these games keep us healthy, mentally.

Gamification 2

In fact video games are so efficient in fulfilling our psychological needs that it has become one of the most seductive activities for us. A game has clear goals, it shows a player’s progression and rewards the player immediately and consistently, all the more reason for our brain to be hooked up to it. Most of the experiences are crafted in such a way that our engagement levels are very high.

Now, although a bit late, marketers have realized the intensity and importance of this platform and trying to use it for what they are best at; marketing. Welcome to world of gamification. Gamification describes the use of game mechanics, such as challenges, achievements and rewards to redirect consumer behaviors in non-gaming contexts such as retail or education (edutainment) or healthcare. For example; an online newspaper might offer coins/badges as rewards to people who read that newspaper, participate in polls and discussions. The reader with the most coins/badges is given a reward like a free full year subscription of the newspaper. In this way the newspaper is trying modify behaviors of its readers.

TV channels, online retailers, airlines, education providers have all jumped the gun on this. The current games are not only boring, they have trivial challenges and offer low rewards and hence the purpose is not served. But this platform is still in a nascent stage, so there is a lot more to come. As more is done in this field, newer and more interesting games would come, which would reward not only the users but the marketers as well.

Mirk (Sahil Bansal)

Post of the month

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