Home > Business, Usability > What controls your decisions?

What controls your decisions?

Dan Ariely with his research makes me wonder a lot about the rationality of decisions. To be frank, he’s made me think that there is nothing like a rational decision.


Look at these offerings from The Economist. This is an offering Dan found a couple of years ago, and of course the middle options doesn’t seem to be a well thought idea. Now, The Economist made this add by mistake, but it might not be as stupid as one thinks, especially when the offering is made to people, trying to be rational.


Dan asked a number of people what they would choose and what he found was that when people were given these options, non chose the middle option, 84% took the last alternative and 16% took the first option.

But here comes the strangeness of the human mind. If a group was presented just the first and the last option, the third option just attracted 32% while 68% chose the first option. You exclude an option that no one wants and that change how people view the offerings differently.

This should have huge implications on usability. I guess we all know that people are not rational, but remembering that when you specify the alternatives of that dialog box is sometimes not easy. Do listen to the whole presentation and you’ll hear the full story. And thanks to Dan Ariely for again pulling away the blindfolds.

Categories: Business, Usability
  1. angelovds
    2009/08/25 at 6:49 pm

    Although not directly related to usability, his book Predictably Irrational (which he mentions in the video) is very much worth the read if you’re interested in the ‘stupid little things’ we do.
    Also, he covers more profound things like moving your company to a different location, and the decisions people make when faced with such an event; I’d say this same irrationality can be applied to the way people react to other changes in their working environment. As agile advocates, we’re known to cause some of those, right?

    • Anna Forss
      2009/08/26 at 3:34 pm

      Yes, I totally agree. I love that book. I recommend that too

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