Tuesday, December 26, 2017

While a great deal is known about how people respond to influence tactics that are used on them, almost nothing is known about whether people understand these tactics and strategically use them to influence others

Default neglect in attempts at social influence. Julian J. Zlatev et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114 no. 52, pp 13643–13648, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1712757114

Significance: While a great deal is known about how people respond to influence tactics that are used on them, almost nothing is known about whether people understand these tactics and strategically use them to influence others. We examine whether people are successful at using the default effect, a widely studied bias with special policy relevance, to influence others’ choices. Overall, we find that managers, law/business/medical students, and US adults often fail to understand and/or use defaults, with some interesting exceptions. These findings suggest that the scope for improving social welfare via behavioral policy interventions is vast.

Abstract: Current theories suggest that people understand how to exploit common biases to influence others. However, these predictions have received little empirical attention. We consider a widely studied bias with special policy relevance: the default effect, which is the tendency to choose whichever option is the status quo. We asked participants (including managers, law/business/medical students, and US adults) to nudge others toward selecting a target option by choosing whether to present that target option as the default. In contrast to theoretical predictions, we find that people often fail to understand and/or use defaults to influence others, i.e., they show “default neglect.” First, in one-shot default-setting games, we find that only 50.8% of participants set the target option as the default across 11 samples (n = 2,844), consistent with people not systematically using defaults at all. Second, when participants have multiple opportunities for experience and feedback, they still do not systematically use defaults. Third, we investigate beliefs related to the default effect. People seem to anticipate some mechanisms that drive default effects, yet most people do not believe in the default effect on average, even in cases where they do use defaults. We discuss implications of default neglect for decision making, social influence, and evidence-based policy.

Check also Szaszi, B., Palinkas, A., Palfi, B., Szollosi, A., and Aczel, B. (2017) A Systematic Scoping Review of the Choice Architecture Movement: Toward Understanding When and Why Nudges Work. J. Behav. Dec. Making, http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/12/selling-snake-oil-of-nudging-only-7-of.html

Seven myths of memory

Seven myths of memory. Nicola S. Clayton, , Clive Wilkins. Behavioural Processes, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2017.12.018

•    Episodic memories are not accurate objective reflections of what happened, nor are they a permanent record of the past.
•    We don’t remember the scenes we actually saw, nor do we make a series of one-off snap shots of what happened.
•    Although we travel backwards in the mind’s eye to relive the past we do not reverse time mentally. We jump back to a specific point in time and then play the memory forwards again.
•    Memory is only used to recall the past for it evolved to anticipate and imagine future scenarios. In thinking about the future, however, we make a fundamental mistake, namely that we think the future will be more like the past and the present than it will ever really be. This is because we overvalue the self in the here and now.

Abstract: In this paper we highlight seven myths about memory, which centre around the fact that memories, as we experience them, are not only about the past, they are also prospective. Although episodic memory provides the template for future scenarios, it can be reassessed each time it is recalled, and in part is dependent on the sequence in which events unfold. We explore seven myths about memory, and the relationship between memory and experience. We refer to ‘The Moustachio Quartet’, a series of novels, which highlight themes and ideas relevant to our argument, and ‘The Creatures in the Night’, a picture book of paintings that explore the passage of time. We integrate evidence from science and the arts to explore the subjective nature of memory and mental time travel, arguing that our capacity to juggle multiple perspectives evolved for the act of prospection, as an aid to move time forward to the advantage of our species by imagining future scenarios.

Keywords: Episodic memory; Mental time travel; Future planning; ‘The Captured Thought’; ‘The Moustachio Quartet’