Understanding human psychology and biases can help you succeed in your career, business, or life. How? Well, we make a lot of illogical decisions.
Have you ever experienced a situation where you know a human isn’t behaving logically? We do crazy, emotional things because of psychological biases, addictions, habits, and other things wired by our genetics since they served our ancestores.
I’ll show you the best books you can read to catch you up to speed on 90% of most human errors. Before that, I want to give you a few tips. You can use these principles to protect yourself from foolish decisions and behaviors. You can also use these in business and life to sell products or better understand humans. Please use them for ethical reasons only because you’ll win more in the long run.
They Get You To Eat Junk Food By Showing You Healthy Stuff
According to the book The Power of Habits, grocery stores have learned to put healthy foods first so that you are more likely to buy junk food later on since you bought healthy food already. It goes against logic a bit since healthy fruits usually bruise easier at the bottom of your pile of items you buy, but they do it to get you to buy more.
Steer clear of the junk food aisle. I’m not 100% sure this extends beyond food, but it could be used in other life areas. You may be more likely and susceptible to do things not good for you or your body after doing something good beforehand (like a charity).
I heard this advice from famed investor Jim Rogers in his book A Gift To My Children as well as from famous Youtube vlogger Shay Carl: Don’t go into a grocery store hungry. You buy a ton of unnecessary things you wouldn’t have.
People Are More Likely To Adopt Something Familiar To Them
Radios found it very difficult to get listeners to adopt songs that sounded different.
Butchers had a hard time selling liver and intestines.
The Power of Habit lists a number of examples like this. What they ended up doing was slowly introducing new things through familiar things. They would sandwich new songs in between very familiar, well-known songs with high stick-rate (a high stick-rate means very few people would switch stations while the song played). Butchers packaged liver as “the new steak” since we were familiar with steak.
Use: introduce different things by packaging them in things that are familiar.
The Perils of Just One Bias (Contrast Bias)
The first thing we compare things to often skews further comparisons.
Popularized by Robert Cialdini’s book Influence, this can be used in pricing all the way to dating.
Car salesman use this tactic very well: they get you comparing big numbers like $50,000 to $150,000 car prices. Once you’ve bought the car, a small item like a $100 accessory doesn’t seem like much.
But point blank, had you tried to sell a $100 product initially, it’s a big purchasing decision.
Studies have also shown that women do look more attractive when in a group of less attractive women. Men look more attractive with a group of women around him (arguably, this is more social proof than contrast bias).
The Top 7 Books on Cognitive Biases & Human Behavior
One of the greatest discoveries I’ve made is that humans are irrational and do a lot of things without any idea why they do them. I used to think humans are these elite, smart creatures that always used logic to push society and themselves forward. Nope. I’m sure we’ve all met some who has proven this idea false.
Take boobs. Why do men like two blobs of fat tissue on the chest? Initially, the answer seems obvious. A man will probably retort with “WTF! That’s a dumb question. Are you gay? Why don’t you like tits?”
Yet when you look under the surface, they have no idea why these bits of fat interest them so much. They just have liked it for so long they assume the answer’s obvious. But it’s not. Those more rational may pose that it’s because big boobs produce more milks than small boobs. But research shows they don’t.
But what’s important is not just knowing cool scientific facts about why we do what we do. What’s more fascinating is why we do stupid stuff that sabotages our success. Why do we shoot ourselves in the foot and make stupid decisions?
Why did the guy from Deal or No Deal choose to risk NO DEAL when he had two cases left with a million dollars and a penny, risking getting one penny versus walking away with $500,000? Turns out there is more than just greed at play.
There’s ton of psychological biases at work, stuff that served our ancestors well in the savannas but play havoc on us today. I’ve mentioned biases in a lot of my previous content, but it can seem like a lot to understand. Is there a way of getting 80-90% of an understanding of all the biases out there in a short period of time? Yep, read these books that explore human nature in rough order of priority and impact (affiliate links):
- Influence: Principles of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Presuasion by Robert Cialdini
- Age of Propoganda
- Win Bigly by Scott Adams
- Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
- The Art of Thinking Clearly
What’s your biggest observation of human nature?
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