Reactance is the psychological term defining the human tendency of reacting negatively towards situations perceived to be limiting personal freedom of choice. Wikipedia defines it as such: Reactance is a motivational reaction to offers, persons, rules, or regulations that threaten or eliminate specific behavioral freedoms. Reactance occurs when a person feels that someone or something […]

Halo Effect (tendency)

The Halo Effect is the academic (and not really intuitive) name for the human tendencies to use the characteristic of someone or something in one domain to infer positive or negative attributes in other, unrelated domains. It’s widely used to associate brands or products with positive aspects, like the color green for healthy or environmentally-friendly […]

The peak-end rule for rating past experiences

Definition When people remember their feelings from a past experience (pain for a medical procedure, frustration when shopping online, etc.), they do so by: remembering their experience at the peak, that is at the most intense point of their experience remembering their experience at the end neglecting to take into account the total duration of their […]

Ranking of choice options influences decisions

When people are presented with a list of any kind, the order used to present the options will influence their choice. It might seem obvious but not many choice architects are checking this point systematically. This tendency can be used to shape a user’s choice, so it’s the basis for simple nudges to shift people’s […]

A/A illusion (or A/B illusion)

Michelle Meyer and Christopher Chabris coined, to my knowledge, the term “A/B illusion” to designate: Our contrary tendency to see experiments—but not untested innovations foisted on us by powerful people—as involving risk, uncertainty, and power asymmetries […]. — source They summarized their view in a NYT op-ed and Michelle Meyer expands on them both in a forthcoming […]

Moral licensing (or self-licensing)

Moral licensing or self moral licensing is a cognitive tendency that leads people to behave unethically without feeling guilt for doing so, if they have done enough ethical action prior to this unethical behavior. A good overview of this effect is provided by Merritt et al1 When under the threat that their next action might be […]

Conflict of interest disclosure leads to more biased advice

In a study by George Loewenstein et al1, they found that when advisors were providing disclosure of conflict of interest, they allowed themselves to give more biased advice to the advisees. Here are the mechanisms at work to explain this behavior, from their paper: Two mechanisms involved are strategic exaggeration (the tendency to provide more […]

Myopic Loss Aversion

Last updated on: September 8, 2015. Definition Combination of loss aversion and frequent evaluations of risky returns: pleasure felt after observing a gain is inferior to the pain experienced after a loss of an equivalent amount losses are experienced more frequently at narrow time scales More frequent evaluations lead to increased risk aversion. Definition source: my […]