Saturday, May 23, 2009

* Sway: The irresistible pull of irrational behavior by Ori & Rom Brafman

The Brafman brothers have written a followup to the "Spider and Starfish" If you're interested in how irrational you can be, you should study the Dan Ariely tome, Predictably Irrational Otherwise this is book good for a short flight. 

High culture down under

At 7:51am during rush hour at Wash DC subway plaza, a man dressed in jeans wearing a baseball cap nonchalantly took out his $3.5M Stradavarius violin… Over the next 43 minutes, Joshua Bell, one of the world’s best violinists played one of the most challenging pieces ever composed for the violin… Of the 1097 people who walked by, hardly anyone stopped. One man listened for a few minutes, a couple of kids stared, and one women who happened to recognize the violinist, gaped in disbelief. P49


But is it really intelligent to pay more?

A group of students was told the intelligence enhancing affects of SoBe Adrenaline Rush beverage. The control group was given no beverage, and the other group was further divided into 2. One group was charged $2.89 for SoBe, and the other was told that the university got a good deal and it only cost $.89 for the SoBe. How did the 3 groups perform on an intelligence test? The $2.89 group performed slightly better than the control. But before we run out and buy SoBe because of its acuity enhancing powers, we should note that the $.89 group performed significantly worse than the control. Given that the exact same beverage was given to both SoBe groups, we can only conclude that it was the value the students attributed that made the difference in their test scores…When you get something at a discount, positive expectations don’t kick in. Once we attribute a value to something, its very difficult to view it in a different light. P56


Ask her this, "Does size really matter?", when it pertains to discounts of course

The price we pay for theater tickets affects our enjoyment as well. Those who paid full price attended significantly more shows than those who received either a $2 or $7 per show discount… Those who paid full price went to more shows because their investment was higher. But there was no difference in attendance levels between the 2 discount groups. You’d expect that the $7 discount group would skip more than the $2 discount group given the lower investment. The amount of discount didn’t matter – what swayed the attendees was the very fact that a discount was given. Regardless of the size of the discount, the patrons regarded the tickets and productions as inferior. P59


Why first dates and first interviews often can lead you astray

There’s only a small correlation between open ended ‘First date’ unstructured job interviews and job performance… First impressions can be totally wrong. Applicants put on their best show, managers put on their best show – and you don’t see the realities of the person in 30 minutes. P77

We know we're all doomed in the end, but we're still optimistic about our future 

College students and their friends/families were surveyed about their new romantic relationships. After a semester (6 months) had passed 61% were still in the relationship. A year later, only 48%...  Roommates and parents were far better than students at predicting a relationships longevity. Students assessments on the problems in their relationships however was right on the money. The students weren’t blind to the issues that were already putting strains on the relationships; they simply ignored them when it came time to make predictions of the future. They consistently overestimated the longevity. P79


Why do people still take this stuff? And why do doctors still prescibe it?

Examining 47 randomized placebo controlled short term efficacy trials for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, researchers concluded that SSRIs were no more clinically effective than placebos in making patients – either kids or adults – feel better… When comes to SSRIs and children, only 3 out of 16 showed a positive result. And of course there are serious side effects. P96

 Beauty is in the ear of the beholder

A group men was asked to speak to women without seeing them. The men were handed photos of the women, but the photos were not real. Some men were given beautiful photos… No surprise, the men evaluated the women with beautiful photos as sociable, humorous, and adept women, while the others were awkward, serious, socially inept. But the real experiment was a jury group that was only allowed to hear the women’s side of the conversation with the men without seeing the pictures. This group was able to come to the same conclusion with the voices alone. How did they do that? … Imagine if you were talking on the phone to someone you believed to be attractive. You’d be more engaged, listen more attentively, and be more immersed in the interaction. When the ‘beautiful’ women spoke to their mysterious strangers, without realizing it, they took on the character that the men expected them to have… They unconsciously picked up on the ‘beautiful’ opinion the men had of them and acted accordingly. In other words, being thought of as beautiful made the women think of themselves as beautiful and exhibit beauty in their conversations. P103


Why Russians love to lie to you if you're rich

In Russia, if people become very poor, they obviously will become a burden on society. If they became rich, it probably meant that they were up to no good: they were criminals or did things which endangered the community. This view is in direct opposition to Western attitudes towards wealth. So in Russia, on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, it is clear why Russian audiences tell contestants the wrong answer during a lifeline, while in the US the audience is right about 90% of the time. P123


What a great rule for the dinner table!

Supreme court justices have a conference rule: everyone speaks once before anyone speaks twice. P153


How to cut your losses

When we find ourselves unsure about whether to continue an approach, it’s useful to ask “If I were just arriving, were given a choice of either continuing the current project, or pass on it?” If the answer is pass, then chances are you’ve been swayed to stay on because of the hidden force of commitment. Making a clean break might feel uncomfortable, but it could be in our best interest. 

No comments: