Posts tagged “psychology”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • What is the deal with Jughead's hat? – This is something the Internet is truly great at: as an archive for the exploration and explanation of the obscure aspects of the familiar. What will future anthropologists make of the Internet of our generation?
  • Karachi, Pakistan manufacturing firm produces corsets and fetish wear (for export) – The brothers said Pakistan’s “stone-age production” worked to their advantage. The country, they said, lacks visionary product development. “Everyone’s still making the same products,” Adnan said.

    Then, they discovered a kind of straitjacket online. At first, they thought it was used for psychiatric patients, but it quickly led them to learn about the lucrative fetish industry.

    Today, they sell their products to online and brick-and-mortar shops, and to individuals via eBay. Their market research, they said, showed that 70 percent of their customers were middle- to upper-class Americans, and a majority of them Democrats. The Netherlands and Germany account for the bulk of their European sales.

    “We really believe that if you are persistent and hard working, there is an opportunity, in any harsh environment, even in an economically depressed environment like Pakistan,” Rizwan said.

  • Average frustrated chump – for what's a subculture without its jargon? – Often abbreviated "AFC," is seduction community jargon for a heterosexual male who is unsuccessful at finding sexual or romantic relationships with women] This person seeks attraction and longingly desires intimacy, but only finds cordial friendship and platonic love with women. The term AFC is pejorative, and is attributed to NLP teacher Ross Jeffries.
  • Seduction? Yeah we've got a group for that – The "seduction community" refers to a loose-knit subculture of men who strive for better sexual and romantic success with women through self-improvement and a greater understanding of social psychology. It exists largely through Internet forums and groups, as well as over a hundred local clubs, called "lairs" Supporters refer to the subculture simply as 'the community" and often call themselves "pickup artists." Origins date back to Eric Weber's 1970 book How to Pick Up Girls.

Increase Your Effectiveness In Meetings by 10%

(This post originally appeared on Core77)

There’s a strong fascination cum infatuation with semi-secret rules that explain why we do what we do. Even In Treatment uses Gladwell (the form’s biggest popularizer) to forward a common misconception about therapy while creating dramatic tension.

In a recent counter-intuitive example, a study indicates that people ordering from a menu that includes healthy and less-healthy options will feel more free to choose the less-healthy option. The theory isn’t totally clear (perhaps a vicarious “I’ve been good” hit comes from the presence of those other items) and its extensibility to other choice behaviors isn’t at all clear.

And in the “no duh” category, another study that looked at radiologists found that “when a digital photograph was attached to a patient’s file, radiologists provided longer, more meticulous reports. And they said they felt more connected to the patients, whom they seldom meet face to face.” Although I wonder if the folks at the passport office, with their surplus of mortifying headshots, would support this study, it really just makes sense and could be applied to all sorts of intermediated interactions, both asynchronous (i.e., mortgage applications) and synchronous (ie., tech support chat). For further study, does an avatar or a stock photo work as well as photograph? Do other biographical details work as well? And how long does this effect last?

If you’re into anecdotes and theories that can help you explain, predict, and otherwise impress those around you, check out Lone Gunman, Overcoming Bias and Freakonomics .

Meanwhile, we’re ready to casually cite the classic marketing/business/social science examples, such as the Add An Egg phenomenon, the Kitty Genovese effect, how a waiter’s tip can decline precipitously based solely on the waiting-time for the bill (citation anyone?) and the Hawthorne Effect.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Henry: High earner, not rich yet – [Blogging this purely for the acronym]
    "HENRYs, an acronym we'll use to describe people whose financial situation can be summed up by the phrase "high earners, not rich yet." (I coined the term for a Fortune story in 2003 on the alternative minimum tax, or AMT, the bane of the HENRYs.) Put simply, the HENRYs are the bulwark of the professional and entrepreneurial class that drives the economy. Look in the mirror, Fortune reader, and you'll probably see a HENRY."
  • INFLUENCE AT WORK – Proven Science for Business Success – Robert Cialdini's business site for his work on persuasion
  • Robert Cialdini designs program where utility customers get smileys or frownies on their bill in comparison with neighbors – Last April, it began sending out statements to 35,000 randomly selected customers, rating them on their energy use compared with that of neighbors in 100 homes of similar size that used the same heating fuel. The customers were also compared with the 20 neighbors who were especially efficient in saving energy.
  • Coca-Cola Deleting ‘Classic’ From Coke Label – The Coca-Cola Company is dropping the “Classic” from its red labels in some Southeast regions, and the word will be gone from all of its packaging by the summer, the company said Friday. The font size of the “Classic” has been shrinking in the last decade, and the company removed it from labels in Canada in 2007.

    The language on the side of the label where it now says “Coke original formula” will change to say “Coke Classic original formula.” “Every place else in the world it is called Coca-Cola, except for in North America."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • PETA (hopefully tongue-in-cheek) attempts to rebrand fish as "Sea Kittens" – Sorta reductio ad absurdum re: my latest interactions column, Poets, Priests, and Politicians
  • Rug company Nanimarquina brings global warming to your living room – "If there is an iconic image that represents the natural devastation of global warming, it is the lone polar bear stuck on a melting ice flow. Now eco rug company Nanimarquina has teamed up with NEL artists to create a beautiful ‘Global Warming Rug’ – complete with stranded polar bear floating in the middle of the sea – to represent the most pressing issue of our time. Rugs have been traditionally used throughout the ages to tell stories and communicate messages, and we think this is a lovely, poignant new take on a time-honored tradition." What effect does it have when an issue like global warming gets iconified and aestheticized like this? Does it drive home the seriousness of the situation, or make it more palatable?
  • Asch conformity experiments – (via Eliezer Yudkowsky) Asch asked people about similarity of height between several lines. Confederates answered incorrectly and this influenced the subject themselves to support this incorrect answer.
  • Confirmation bias: the tendency to seek out information that supports what we already believe – (via Eliezer Yudkowsky) The 2-4-6 problem presented subjects with 3 numbers. Subjects were told that the triple conforms to a particular rule. They were asked to discover the rule by generating their own triples, where the experimenter would indicate whether or not the triple conformed to the rule. While the actual rule was simply “any ascending sequence”, the subjects often proposed rules that were far more complex. Subjects seemed to test only “positive” examples—triples the subjects believed would conform to their rule and confirm their hypothesis. What they did not do was attempt to challenge or falsify their hypotheses by testing triples that they believed would not conform to their rule.
  • Overcoming Bias – Blog by Eliezer Yudkowsky and others about (overcoming) biases in perception, decisions, etc.
  • Hindsight bias: when people who know the answer vastly overestimate its predictability or obviousness, – (via Eliezer Yudkowsky)
    Sometimes called the I-knew-it-all-along effect.
    "…A third experimental group was told the outcome and also explicitly instructed to avoid hindsight bias, which made no difference."
  • Planning fallacy – the tendency to underestimate task-completion times – (via Eliezer Yudkowsky) Asking people what they did last time turns out to be more accurate than what they either hope for or expect to happen this time
  • Cognitive Biases in the Assessment of Risk – (via Eliezer Yudkowsky) Another example of extensional neglect is scope insensitivity, which you will find in the Global Catastrophic Risks book. Another version of the same thing is where people would only pay slightly more to save all the wetlands in Oregon than to save one protected wetland in Oregon, or people would pay the same amount to save two thousand, twenty thousand, or two hundred thousand oil-stroked birds from perishing in ponds. What is going on there is when you say, “How much would you donate to save 20,000 birds from perishing in oil ponds,” they will visualize one bird trapped, struggling to get free. That creates some level of emotional arousal, then the actual quantity gets thrown right out the window.

    [I am not sure that's the reason why; I think there could be other explanations for the flawed mental model that leads to those responses]

  • Conjunction fallacy – (via Eliezer Yudkowsky) A logical fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that specific conditions are more probable than a single general one. Example: Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations.

    Which is more probable?

    1. Linda is a bank teller.
    2. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.

    85% of those asked chose option 2 [2]. However, mathematically, the probability of two events occurring together (in "conjunction") will always be less than or equal to the probability of either one occurring alone.

Intuit Customer Survey

I’m doing an online chat with a customer support agent at Intuit about a problem wtih getting a refund for buggy software. At the end of the session, I get this

550 Ernie : You will be asked to complete a survey after this chat. One of the questions asks if I have completely resolved your issue today. Can we agree that the solution I’m providing will accomplish this for you?

In fact, all they’ve done is have me tell them AGAIN about my problem (after all the software problems, they agreed to issue a refund, but then don’t, and so I follow up by email and they tell me to call or chat and I have to go through the story again and so they’ve opened up a case with a case number and presumably in 8 weeks I should have my refund. Who knows?).

550 Ernie : I am very sorry to interrupt you. I am awaiting your response, Steve.

Obviously they need to game the system and try some social engineering to get me to agree to fill out the survey properly. I’m sure there’s documented evidence that if I agree to say something there’s a higher likelihood I’ll grade them higher. From some customer research into this sort of metric, I realized that the score is more important than the actual problem solving. As long as numbers can demonstrate adequate performance, people keep their jobs. I don’t mean Ernie, I mean someone who manages 1000 Ernies.


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