The Psychology of Choice
In the article ‘The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice’ by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, the event of decision making is explored.
A problem that was described in the article that I thought really outlined its magnitude was this,
The Us is is preparing for the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease, which is expected to kill 600 people. two alternative programs to combat the disease have been proposed. Assume that the exact scientific estimate of the consequences of the program are as follows:
if program A is adopted, 200 people will be saved
if program B is adopted, there is a 1/3 probability that 600 people will be saved and a 2/3 probability that no people will be saved.
When asked this in a survey 72 percent of people chose program A and 28 percent chose program B.
Yet when the same question was asked with program A being phrased as ‘if program A is adopted, 400 people will die‘ the statistics changed hugely with only 22 percent of people choosing program A and then 78 percent choosing program B- showing a complete shift in the peoples choices!
I think this example really highlights how psychology and framing could be used to influence other people decisions. this example is very effective as it uses peoples lives in a risk taking example, but the same concept could really be applied to any decision whether it be a life changing event or simply choosing which brand of hairdryer to buy.
when using psychology to get people to make certain decisions the certainty effect and the pseudocertainty effect are also important elements. the certainty effect can appear when there is a certain outcome rather than just a probable one, the pseudocertainty effect is when there is an unjustified sense of certainty. For example a previous win of $10 in a game with friends might lead you to make the same decision that led to the win rather than reevaluating new options.
This article really makes you think about decisions, when someone gives you an choice to make- is it really an obvious decision or does it just seem like it is? is it possible to be given a choice and it not be influenced psychologically? for the statement to be completely unframed? and finally is it ethical to purposely frame a decision when presenting a choice to someone else?
Tversky, A and Kahneman, D. 1981. The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice. Science 211