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Psychological Design - Behavioral economics, user experience and gamification put into one blog.

New blog, new style

I’m gonna resurrect myself in another form, in another style, here:


I’m gonna be honest: it takes me a lot of time to write articles, and I want to really enjoy doing it, and that’s only possible if I can write in a more informal manner. Also,  about more personal stuff. I want to share the things I’m working on, and I can’t do it on this blog, since that requires another kind of… structure.

Still, my interests haven’t changed, but more like enriched with the experience I’ve gathered through the last 9 months. It was exciting time, that’s for sure!

See you at ItchingPixels!… Want to read more?

Less is more … attractive!

Which one tastes better: drinking coke from a large bottle (2,5 L) or from a small one?
Would you care more of your online representation if you got only one like per day from Facebook to spend?
And what if you got only a small portion of food in a restaurant?

How do these limitations effect your experience?

I don’t know whether it’s true for everyone or it is just me, but I love drinking from those small soft drink bottles. And at the same time, I find it quite difficult to value the things that I have a stockpile of…

Let’s call this weird effect the scarcity principle.

This effect comes from the assumption that something is rare because it is popular and everybody wants to get hold of it. And we know that if something is popular, that’s a good indication of its quality.
That’s the same case why you prefer a Porsche more than a Volkswagen, even if they both have the same specifications: mostly because those sport cars are rare. If everybody drove a sport car, I bet nobody would really appreciate them.
I think it is the main reason why so many expensive restaurants only serve a small portion of food. This way they can really make you appreciate the dish you ordered.… Want to read more?

Contagious Opinions

Can you imagine a scenario where you were asked a question and you chose the obviously wrong answer, just because the others did the same?

Actually, it can happen to you, as well. 75% of the people who participated in Solomon Asch’s 1951 conformity experiment chose the obviously wrong answer at least once during the test.
By hiring actors, he was able to apply peer pressure to the subjects and increase the number of wrong answers from 3% (control group) to 32%, which is quite impressive.

This is what people call the effect of social proof.

Imagine the influence of it under another condition, where the right choice isn’t that obvious… For example, if you’re not sure whether the joke you’ve heard in a sitcom is funny or not.
And then you hear the invisible guys laughing on it in the background. And you automatically start to appreciate the joke that was – originally – mediocre at most.… Want to read more?

Who follows who?

Today, I would like to do three short experiments with you:

One of the pairs of cards used in Solomon Asch's 1951 experiment.
Please have a look at the picture above.
Can you tell me which line (from the right side) matches the length of the line on the other side?
It seems fairly easy, doesn’t it?
Now, imagine that you’re participating in a group experiment where five people were asked the same question before you, and they all answered the same: the third one.

What’s happening here?
It seems so obvious that only the second one has the same height as the line on the right, but they chose the other one… Strange.
So, your answer is … ?Want to read more?

Can You Spot a Decoy?

What do you think is the least noticeable method to change one’s preference?
The surprising answer is: to include another, seemingly irrelevant choice, that is especially similar to the one before.

Imagine, that to read this article further, you would have to do me a favor. You have two choices:

  1. Pay with a tweet, and read 2 articles.
  2. Invite 5 friends and read 5 articles.

If you want to decide rationally, you have to answer all the following questions:

  • How much is transforming my twitter feed into a billboard worth?
  • How much is my friends’ trust worth?

And, most importantly, how much is this article worth at all?Want to read more?

Why Too Many Choices Are Good For You

This is part two of a two-part article. The title of the first one is Why Too Many Choices Are Bad For You. You can read it here!

..Do you really want to research the Internet for a week to be able to make up your mind which HTC smarthpone is right for you from the 12 slightly-different ones?
And although this question is quite manipulative, the answer can be easily “YES!”, if you ask the right person…

And that’s exactly my point. Wide variety of products can appeal to a particular kind of customer: a well-informed one. One who knows what he or she wants exactly.

In his book called “The Long Tail”, Wired editor Christopher Anderson argues that products that have a low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough.
Actually, it’s not an argument, it’s a fact, just have a look at the figures. Probably that’s why we have shops that specializing exclusively in leather gloves, import tea or pesticides – although I, myself don’t understand the need for them.

But it should be taken into account that the appeal of enormous amount of products depends on the context. For example, if you want to order a good bottle of wine at a reasonable price, you won’t get much help by visiting this website:… Want to read more?

Why Too Many Choices Are Bad for You

This is part one of a two-part article. The title of the second one is “Why too many choices are good for you”.

One of the most famous psychology experiment happened almost ten years ago in a British supermarket.
Sheena Iyengar and her colleagues set up a small tasting booth, where they either offered 6 or 24 different kinds of jam. What they first found is that only 40% of the people stepped to the booth when there were only 6 jars of jam on the table, compared to the 60% result in the other case.
Now, here comes the surprising fact: only 3% of the customers who “dropped by” to taste the 24 different kinds of jam actually bought something, compared to the astonishing 30% who were offered the less amount of choices.

That’s a ten time increase produced only by limiting the options presented to the customer.

Imagine the scenario where you want to buy a 27- inch monitor, because you had enough of the old, giant-size CRT display that you have now.
You visit your favorite electronic store (virtually, of course) and finally count up exactly 1117 monitors that you can choose from.… Want to read more?

Dripping Their Way to a Huge Bill

Ever wonder how can you end up paying four times as much for a low-cost airplane ticket as it was advertised?

Let me introduce you to the dark secrets of drip pricing, which is basically nothing more than adding surcharges at the cashier that wasn’t mentioned before…

Is it really effective? It must be, as the Office of Fair Trading (UK) labels it as the most dangerous pricing strategy around. In their report, participants say that they still bought the product or service after they found out of the additional charges, even though it seemed unfair and manipulative.
What do you do if you encounter this “dirty trick”? Do you still continue with the checkout process or do you abandon your purchase?
But you have already decided to buy the product, it feels like it’s yours already!

“This is the last additional $10 I have to pay to accomplish my dream and travel to Barcelona!”

The other side of the coin.
Many scientific experiments reported that customers feel higher perceived value and purchase intentions (Burman & Biswas, 2007), higher price satisfaction (Xia & Monroe, 2004) and lower recalled price (Morwitz et al, 1998; Lee & Han, 2002). However, the OFT report seems to disagree with the previous statements. For a reason.Want to read more?

What is Psychological Design?

Some people call it user experience design, while others persuasion, but I think these terms do not cover the field that I’m deeply interested in.

As we have already learnt from Douglas Adams; the holistic approach is the most efficient way to solve a crime. In my case, I want to be the detective who investigates the kept secrets of “psychological design”. It may seem a scaringly interdisciplinary thing that unites marketing, interaction design, user experience design, graphic design and behavioral economics to solve THE riddle:… Want to read more?

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