Published: 09th January 2021
E-Canteen Fundas: The art of not getting conned is something everyone should learn to master
Pro Tip: We’re prone to succumb to routine biases that cloud our judgement. Being aware of them can help you decide better and also help you influence others favourably
Bhaiyya,’ said Rahul on their Zoom meeting. ‘Rinku and I visited this shop where they offered her a free sample of chocolate. In return, she bought a ton of stuff she didn’t really want simply because of that free sample. She always gets conned like this.’
‘Ah, reciprocity,’ said Rakesh. ‘There are many such errors we make routinely that are listed in a book by Rolf Dobelli titled The Art of Thinking Clearly. In reciprocity, for example, we feel obliged to repay a perceived debt and end up paying a lot more in return for a small gesture. Consider this. A person wishes you daily for a year. One day, he asks you for a loan. You feel he’s nice, don’t want to hurt him, give him the money and he disappears with it. We’re set up, hope against our better judgement and lose big.
‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘What other such errors do we make, bhaiyya? You could save me a lot of money.’
‘The most common technique is ‘Framing’, where one aspect is highlighted or framed, thereby influencing behaviour,’ said Rakesh. ‘A statement like “Vaccine A has 20% side effects”, will be received negatively, while “80% success rate for Vaccine A”, will be seen positively, though they’re both saying the same thing. We remember the framed part and react accordingly.’
‘But we all do that don’t we, bhaiyya?’ said Rahul.
‘Yes, we do,’ said Rakesh. ‘Take first impressions, for example.From dating to interviews to presentations, we all present the good stuff up front to influence others favourably. It’s called the Primacy Effect. That said, we also tend to get biased by the last or most recent information – what’s called the Recency Effect.
‘In effect,’ said Rahul, ‘Our opinions and decisions are influenced by beginnings and endings, be it in stories, movies, lectures, etc. Hmm, we can use this to our advantage.’
‘Wow,’ said Rinku. ‘How do we prevent these errors, bhaiyya?’
‘Being aware helps,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘Consider what’s not shown and get complete information. Don’t make impulsive decisions based on first and last impressions.’
‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘We’ll watch out for cognitive errors like Reciprocity, Framing, Primacy and Recency effects etc. It could save us a lot of money and trouble.’