Subconsciously making decisions

In her book “Mastermind” Maria Konnikova writes about how our mind is influenced by our environment. This mostly doesn’t happen with our full awareness, but often by our subconsciousness. As an example she points out that universities have a higher apply-rate on sunny days than on rainy days. And of course the place looks more beautiful, feels nicer and warmer when you visit it on a sunny day and thus giving you a better feeling about it.  However it doesn’t seem very clever letting the decision of where to study depend on the weather.

This subconscious decision making is the basis of A/B-testing in the web. Obama’s campaign 2008 for example  ran this experiment with the website visitors. They tried different subscribe buttons, as well as different videos or pictures above it. It turned out that the most effective combination was a “Learn more”-button alongside a picture of Obama’s family, leading to a much higher subscribing rate than the other options. This shows that somehow a little text and one picture can already change a lot in ourselves, leading us into making a decision, which we maybe wouldn’t make if the text of the button would be different.

Seeing how such simple variations can have such an impact on us, makes me wonder how many decisions I made with the help of such little tricks. Today I’m pretty sure that we all participate in such an experiment every day (although I couldn’t find any numbers yet). But companies are always trying to find the best way to sell their products to us and persuading our subconsciousness by beautiful and friendly looking buttons and pictures that their product is the best. And this seems to achieve the wanted effect very well and efficiently, especially in this era where online shopping grows more and more, making it very easy to run these experiments and finding out what our subconsciousness likes the most.

The mean thing about this is, that the user or buyer doesn’t realize, how he is being influenced. The only thing that we can do to prevent making unwanted decisions is reflecting more about the use of one product before buying it or making a decision. Being aware that you’re probably manipulated by outer influences probably already does half of the job. Reminding yourself of this over and over again makes you think automatically more about your decisions and falling less for the nice environment.

It’s always hard to do so and keep this in mind all the time, since it’s a very hidden manipulation of our feelings and thus never falls to our eyes. We have to think about it actively. But don’t let us make stupid decisions due to our subconsciousness, especially when they are important and better rethink once again before making a final decision, which we may regret some day.

What revolution will you lead?

This is the last question of the blog challenge and I’m very happy and proud that I made it so far. It feels good to complete it and I really enjoyed this and learned a lot about myself especially. Thanks to the “Live you Legend”-team for giving the nudge to start my own blog and also to everyone, who gave me feedback on this and kept me going on. And I won’t think about stopping my blog now and will keep this appointment in my weekly schedule.

But now for today’s question: What revolution will you lead? As I already said in my last post I want to explore more than exploiting again. Open up for new ways to live and other world views and opinions. So my revolution would be to try to get other people as well to do this and help each other by exchanging our ways of thinking. I think that, when people would try to understand different points of view more and open up to new ideas, it would lead to more acceptance and tolerance. It would reduce the fights, where just both sides end up being hurt instead of staying to the topic, trying to follow the other’s argument and first think about it, why it’s wrong or true. My hope is that less fights would lead to a more peaceful world, but now I’m aiming to high again, but that is one of my dreams and I will try to follow it maybe in just the small version.

I would be already very happy and proud, if my revolution just contains myself, because it’s hard to back away a bit from one’s own opinion and consider completely different things instead. If someone joins me then it would be even more helpful and better.

In this world where borders are being closed again and a lot of often reasonless hatred wells up in social media, I think it would be helpful to just reconsider his own opinions and try to understand why other people believe what they believe. Mostly there is no right or wrong and everyone should be aware that his own opinion isn’t the only valid one. The diversity of thoughts is a precious good of human society and luckily it seems to me to be impossible that it would be gone some day. But let’s not allow these diversities to split the society, by acknowledging and accepting other beliefs and opinions.

What difference do you want to make?

This is a hard question for me and I spontaneously don’t know any answer to it. Of course I had some thoughts, like that it would be nice to give everyone in the world enough food and water, such that nobody would have to see how to survive the next day, but then I discard it again because sadly it is impossible to do so.

So I guess, I have to aim for a much smaller difference. What are the differences I can make? Well, it’s best to start small, so I’ll start by just wanting to make a difference to myself. Finding ways to get a good and content feeling with myself. But what exactly do I want to aim for? And somehow through this blog this question got a lot clearer to me. I want to think things more through. What I mean is, thinking about a decision one more time (maybe from the other point of view) before doing it, reflecting information that I get and trying to find out if it’s really correct.

Nowadays fake news are a big deal and through the Internet it got easier to spread and receive them. Algorithms are analyzing what we like to read and hear and thus giving us more of that instead of other various ideas and opinions.  I sometimes have the feeling that these algorithms form our opinion more and more. They want to keep us on their websites, so they feed us with content, which confirms us and thus making us feel better and more confident with our own thinking.

It makes us more exploiting and less exploring, which is not always good because it just keeps ways they are, without giving it the chance to get any better. So that’s the difference I want to make for myself. I want to try to keep my mind open to new things and other ways to live or points of view. I want to find ways to do that easier, since it’s not very easy to change your own opinion.

I would be very happy if you would also share your points of view and thoughts about anything here or even just in everyday’s conversation. Because I think that the difference of our thinking is what brought us so far and it wouldn’t be good if we would loose that. Every thought is worth of elaboration.