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TPR - 4/26/21: How context shapes decision making

TPR - 4/26/21: How context shapes decision making
By Mark Tosczak • Issue #8 • View online
2 minute read
Welcome to issue No. 8 for Monday, April 26, 2021.
A quick note before we begin: I’m changing the frequency of this newsletter from weekly to daily. I’m also changing the format to make it easier to digest.
Each day’s email will contain a single item that should take just a couple minutes to digest. You’ll be able to quickly decide if the day’s email is useful or not, and then either save it for future reference or delete/archive it.
You’ll actually end up with a bit more content each week overall. Structured this way, I hope it’ll be easier to get value from these emails.
If this ends up being too much, of course, there’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. I hope, however, that you’ll give this new format a chance.
Here we go.

How context shapes decision making
From home purchases to jury decisions to medical diagnoses, context influences how we make decisions. Consider these factors described by Vanderbilt University cognitive scientist Jennifer Trueblood, whose research focuses on contextual factors in judgment and decision-making.
The order effect: The sequence in which information is presented can change how people make their decisions. One example is “primacy” — what people learn earlier influences how they weigh information they learn later. It’s harder for later information to alter judgments made based on information presented earlier.
The decoy effect: When choosing between options and weighing various factors a “decoy” can influence which option you choose.
Imagine that I’m deciding between two homes, one that is in a prime location and expensive (let’s call this house A) and another that is in a less desirable location and affordable (let’s call this house B). In this situation, I’m faced with making a trade-off between price and location.
Now, suppose a new option shows up on the market: house C, which is in a very similar location to house B, but slightly more expensive. In this case, house C is clearly worse than house B – costs more for an unfavorable location – so I would never choose it.
Even though I would never buy house C, research shows it influences my choice between the original two. The presence of the inferior house C increases the likelihood that I will buy house B.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Mark Tosczak

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