People eat chocolate bars in pieces, waiting and savoring. They space their cigarettes through the day, their gossip sessions, their calls to friends. They like their sports with timeouts, and practice their religion with fasts and periods of self-denial, like Lent. So why is it that commercial interruptions always ruin TV programs? Maybe they don’t. In two new studies, researchers who study consumer behavior argue that interrupting an experience, whether dreary or pleasant, can make it significantly more intense.
For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. What went wrong—and how we can fix it.
The next time you're standing in the coffee aisle at the grocery store and pick up one particular brand of joe over another, ask yourself why. The answer might be rooted in behavioral economics 101. Marketers and their agencies have been trying to decode why consumers buy what they do since the 1920s, when N.W. Ayer suggested people would "walk a mile for a Camel." But lately they're turning to behavioral economics, a blend of psychology and economics that has until recently been a mostly academic discipline, and could be described most simply as the study of how consumers make economic decisions.
There is a lot of talk today about word-of-mouth, social media and all the technologies that surround them. But have you ever wondered why consumers talk? It turns out that understanding why consumers choose to communicate is rooted in the cognitive psychological sciences. Before you nod off, read on, because this just might make you think differently about your marketing. The brain is designed not to think.
In the 19th and 20th centuries we made stuff: corn and steel and trucks. Now, we make protocols: sets of instructions. A software program is a protocol for organizing information. A new drug is a protocol for organizing chemicals. Wal-Mart produces protocols for moving and marketing consumer goods. Even when you are buying a car, you are mostly paying for the knowledge embedded in its design, not the metal and glass.
Twitter is a phenomenon unto itself. Which is why, in the study of Social Media, Digital Anthropology and Sociology prevails. Technology indeed facilitates interaction while also introducing us to nuances that transcend the parameters governing natural conversations and asynchronous dialogue into new forms of conversational threads and networks. Twitter is among those networks actively studied by many (myself included) as it seemingly defies the laws of natural flow and engagement. The foundation that makes Twitter work is also the very essence that should prevent it from working at all. In Social Media, psychology and the study of the mind now also plays a role in understanding the context to those affecting and affected by online behavior.
Over the past week Google has been rolling out the first invitations to its latest service, a complex "real-time communication and collaboration" system dubbed Google Wave. Instead of sending messages back and forth, users create web-page-like documents called waves that others can modify or comment on, using a combination of features more usually seen separately in email, wikis, instant messaging and social networking (see a video introducing Wave). Early reviews have been positive, and demand for invitations outstrips supply (Google says ours is still on the way). But even for those who have tried and liked it, Wave's potential is still hard to assess. The problem is that most talk about it is focussed on technology, not people.
"Spent" looks at why, when scientific research shows that more stuff doesn’t lead to more happiness, humans are driven to endlessly acquire.
I was doing my grocery shopping yesterday when I stumbled upon a discount that I assumed was a clerical mistake: some fancy olive oil had been reduced from $23 to $9. Needless to say, I immediately put a bottle in my cart, even though I didn't need another bottle of olive oil. But then, just a few minutes later, I began to wonder: why was the olive oil so drastically reduced in price? Is something wrong with it? What isn't Whole Foods telling me? That nagging suspicion - and I'm sure it was completely unfounded - was enough for me to put the bottle back on the shelf. It was too good a deal.