I was reading this great book, and I found out something which may be useful for economists: that moment when you make a decision among close alternatives, is purely emotional. This is what the book has to say:
It’s purely emotional, the moment you pick. People with brain damage to their emotional centers who have been rendered into Spock-like beings of pure logic find it impossible to decide things as simple as which brand of cereal to buy. They stand transfixed in the aisle, contemplating every element of their potential decision—the calories, the shapes, the net weight—everything. They can’t pick because they have no emotional connection to anything.
This is why companies are now starting to limit the variety in their product lines (the consummate example being Apple, of course), because it makes it easier to make an emotional connection and create post-hoc rationalizations about your choice. It may seem a little manipulative but this decision-making heuristic makes our lives easier; one just has to realize their cognitive biases.
It’s quite in line with the bounded rationality of behavioral economics; that people make choices rationally but only up to the extent of what they know and how they think. If this interests you, Predictably Irrational and other books by Ariely are great reads.
I read Predictably Irrational a few years ago, but three years into my advertising coursework, the book would be worth another read through a more critical eye!
Research on the so-called Zero Moment of Truth—the moment when a shopper goes online to research a product and decides whether to make a purchase—suggests consumers often make purchase decisions in-store, as they read peer-to-peer reviews on their smartphones. I wonder if emotional consumer reviews are more persuasive than more matter-of-fact or features-driven reviews. How do reviews, which so many shoppers rely on, facilitate an emotional connection, anyway, if they can at all?
Categories are interesting to anthropologists. They are the “buckets” into which we organize the world. More exactly, they are the buckets with which we read the world. We have a bucket called “bird.” Inside that is a bucket called “Robin.” As spring approaches, we see winged creatures on our lawn and the buckets leap to the ready. Robin! Bird! Spring! This is culture in action.
From this point of view, Pinterest is a treasure. It’s a chance to see American culture as if from a glass-bottom boat. Yes, some of it is a little reductive. But sometimes what people stuff into the categories is a chance for us to see exactly what they mean. Pinterest is a little Rosetta Stone, a table of equivalencies. Oh, so that’s what YOU mean by home. Here’s what I mean. In a culture that flowers with an increasingly diverse variety, this is useful.
I should probably write my own commentary instead of posting quotes all the time, but hel-lo, I have a research proposal to write! Actually, I have two research proposals to write. Ouch.