It Makes (No) Sense
  
It Makes (No) Sense
In between the Joy of Gaining and the Fear of Losing
Published:
12/27/2013
Format:
E-Book (available as PDF files) What's This
ISBN:
978-1-46300-403-3
From a rational point of view, people often do things that make little or no sense. But when these actions are viewed through the lens of behavioral sciences, a new interpretation emerges. Through the filter of a four-dimensional model of human behavior, the reasons that people do what they do begin to come into focus. Building on this idea, It Makes (No) Sense offers a counterintuitive perspective and macro-rules on human judgment, decision-making, and behavior. The first section of the book, “How We Think,” explores human judgment and decision-making. This knowledge serves as the basic of understanding of how social factors, transient internal states, and physical environment elements influence human behavior. Sections two through six go on to describe the 4D Model of Human Behavior, a very effective tool for understanding, predicting, and influencing human behavior. This study gives particular attention to the drivers of human behavior beyond personality. Section seven, “An Alternative to Carrots and Sticks,” criticizes the established way of offering incentives and applying penalties in order to influence behavior. Through the careful application of knowledge from the behavioral and decision sciences, behavioral change can occur. With the journey through the behavioral sciences perspective celebrated in It Makes (No) Sense, things just might make a bit more sense.
Foreword Behavioral economics is undergoing a surge in popularity right now – but it also draws on several decades of work and thousands of different studies. So if you’re a marketer, researcher, educator or anyone else wanting to use it, it can seem temptingly new and forbiddingly complex at the same time. The world of human behavior needs guides. And even more importantly, it needs structure. At BrainJuicer, when we started looking at how to turn the human understanding in behavioral science into business advantage for our clients, we quickly realized two things. First, this stuff was the real thing. The world of marketing is crammed with minor innovations and mayfly buzzwords. New apps are “game-changers”; watching a show on an iPad not a TV is a “paradigm shift”. But if you want a real paradigm shift, look no further than Kahneman and Tversky’s Prospect Theory, which shattered long-standing economic assumptions by proving that humans aren't rational about losses and risks. Behavioral economics and psychology were full of ideas that traditional marketing had only taken partial account of, at best. The second thing we realized is that there were simply too many of these ideas to use effectively unless you roped them into some kind of structure. We put together a “behavioral model”, based on environmental, personal and social factors that influence behavior, and started talking about behavior to our clients in those terms. That’s when Nicholas Naumof got in touch with us. He had also realized that the wild landscape of decision science needed a bit of shaping, and had independently come up with a model of behavior along similar lines – adding a fourth dimension, personality, into the mix. What’s more, Nicholas was writing a book about it. This is that book, and it’s a very valuable contribution to the literature on how people behave. In It Makes (No) Sense, Nicholas doesn't just add structure to your ideas about how people think and decide, he also adds a lot of background information and plenty of great and very human examples. He’s comfortable relating advances in psychology to our evolutionary origins and goals, but just as good at creating compelling stories about how they affect our day to day lives. In its 75 chapters he will introduce you to a host of different psychological and behavioral effects – and just as importantly, how they fit together into a “4D model” of human decisions. Oh, you might say, I’ve already read this bestseller or that one on decision making – why do I need another book? But you’d be wrong. For one thing, there’s so much in here you’ll surely learn something new. For another, Nicholas cares too much about this topic to simply repeat the hype. In fact, his final chapters – about how important experimentation is to behavior change, and what you can expect when you try to create it – are probably the most vital in the whole book. His message is simple: this is science, not magic, and it’s only by understanding why effects happen, and testing your interventions, that you can hope to create consistent change. It’s something we try to do at BrainJuicer too and you can see if we manage it in Chapter 42! Enjoy this book, and thanks Nicholas for writing it. The BrainJuicer Behavioral Change Consultancy It Makes No Sense Imagine that you are a medical doctor in the city of Vienna at one of the world’s best hospitals. You are a true gentleman, member of an elite profession with outstanding education and highly respected by the entire society. You have spent many years learning medicine and you exercise your profession in good faith, doing what you know is best for your patients. You strive to fulfill your duties to the best of your capabilities. Your goal is to make people healthy again and, if the case, save their lives. Despite of your best efforts, some of your patients die. You think that this is the way of nature and even God’s will. After all, not everyone can be saved even if you apply the best of your knowledge in medicine. The year is 1849 and Vienna is the capital of one of the world’s most powerful empires. Naturally, the hospital in Vienna has the best physicians in (central) Europe. However, there are some diseases that can’t be cured and one of them is childbed fever which kills many women very soon after they gave birth. Despite the fact that the women who gave birth in this world-class hospital benefited from the care of some of the best doctors of the time, many of them die soon after their children were born. This must be the will of God or just nature’s way, since even the best doctors in the empire can’t help the new mothers. Certainly this condition is caused by something that is beyond human understanding. It must have some cosmic origins. If you detect something that is not quite as it should be, do not forget that it is the year 1849. One of your colleagues, a fellow doctor, who works in one of the maternity units of the hospital, has a wacky idea that childbed fever can be prevented. This is a bit awkward since the condition is known to be the way of nature, the price that nature sometimes asks for bringing a new life into the world. This weird doctor is Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis. He made the students and trainee doctors under his supervision to perform an unusual activity in the middle of their daily routine. Doctors, students and trainee doctors would work on the cadavers in the basement of the hospital. Afterwards they would perform their work with (living) patients. The wacky doctor Ignaz Semmelweis asked his students and trainee doctors to do something unusual and that made absolutely no sense exactly after finishing the work with the cadavers and just before starting their patient duties. He asked them to wash their hands. The students and trainee doctors were surprised by the unusual request. They couldn’t understand why doctor Semmelweis would ask them to do this since it made absolutely no sense. (Remember, the year is 1849). Some of the trainee doctors complained to the hospital’s management and an investigation was launched since the doctor has created a new protocol and established new rules without the express approval of the management. Doctor Semmelweis told the hospital’s management that he noticed that when he washed his hands before working with the women in the maternity, the number of women who got childbed fever decreased dramatically from about 30% to about 1%. He also said that he asked his students and trainee doctors to do the same and that this rule of washing hands before working with patients should be introduced to the entire hospital. The board wasn't very happy with this outrageous suggestion and asked doctor Semmelweis to give an explanation. The doctor could only say that cadaveric particles on the doctors’ hands would cause blood poisoning to the women in the maternity. This made no sense to the doctors in the hospital management, since doctors by their very nature could not have dirty hands as factory workers and farmers had. They were true gentlemen. How could they be the cause of a disease which is due to cosmic influences? Clearly doctor Semmelweis is not in his right mind anymore. For you it makes no sense that for the doctors in the board of the hospital it made no sense to wash their hands before working with (live) patients. This is because you know that bacteria exist. The doctors in those days didn’t have these notions. For them such things simply didn’t exist and naturally since they didn’t exist they can’t cause childbed fever or any other disease. The doctors in the board of the Vienna Hospital were acting to the best of their knowledge. Can you blame them for not knowing something that wasn't known by anyone? For them, it actually made no sense to wash their hands since they did not know that bacteria existed. The (only) reasonable explanation was that Ignaz Semmelweis has gone crazy.
Nicolae Naumof, a decision designer and behavior builder, has studied people from various scientific perspectives ranging from behavioral economics to evolutionary psychology. He lives in the Netherlands and has his own practice in training and consultancy in applying behavioral sciences in real-life settings. Visit him online at www.naumof.com.
 
 


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