Monday, September 16, 2013

Recognize the Dangers of Thinking So

The 2013 Ig Noble Award in Psychology was announced September 12, and it adds to the evidence that thinking so can make it so.
     Those who carefully follow the RIMtailing blog recall that the annual Ig Noble Awards are given out by the Annals of Improbable Research for studies that come across as sufficiently odd as to usually draw a chuckle. Unlike the Nobel Prizes, which are awarded with formal pomp in Oslo, Norway, and Stockholm, Sweden, the Ig Noble Award ceremony is held in Sanders Theatre at Harvard University and includes Miss Sweetie Poo, always an eight-year-old girl who begins loudly chanting, “Please stop. I’m bored,” at any recipient whose speech exceeds the allotted time limit.
     This year’s Psychology prize was awarded to Laurent Bègue and Oulmann Zerhouni from University of Grenoble, Brad Bushman from Ohio State University, and from University of Paris, Baptiste Subra and Medhi Ourabah. They were honored for their study, published in the British Journal of Psychology titled “Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder: People Who Think They Are Drunk Also Think They Are Attractive.”
     Please note the “who think they are drunk,” not, “who are drunk.” The study participants—none of them college students—who either imbibed a fair amount of alcohol or were led to believe they’d imbibed a fair amount of alcohol when they actually hadn’t tended to rate themselves as brighter, funnier, and more attractive than did those who did not consume the alcohol and were told they hadn’t.
     The less bright, less funny, less attractive counterpart to the levity of this Ig Noble Award is that our customers might use the products and services we sell them to justify bad behavior. A number of years ago, I took on the consulting assignment of maximizing the payoffs from a program to reduce alcohol abuse among teenagers. One of our findings was that, at teen parties, boys who got intoxicated often had the objective of relaxing themselves to improve their sexual performance and girls who got intoxicated often had the objective of providing themselves an excuse for taboo sexual activity.
     We can do only so much to protect customers from themselves. But especially when it comes to young people, I suggest we retailing professionals remember how our responsibilities extend beyond making the sale. This is true even when the purchases produce placebo effects, as in the beauty-and-beer study.

Click below for more: 
Name Your Customers 
Level with Clients about Placebos 
Fake It, But After You Make It 
Protect Customers From Dangerous Decisions 
Caution Shoppers for OTC Safety 
Defuse Your Frustration Hot Buttons with Teens

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