Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

You get what you pay for

Weapons of influence consist of identifying fixed action patterns & exploiting them (Cialdini, 2007).

-       The most common example of a fixed-pattern is the idea that expensive = good and that inexpensive = bad. These fixed action patterns work well most of the time and usually work to our advantage by simplifying our lives – they allow us to act without thinking. However, trigger features, in this case the price of products, can also be used for duping us.

Why a 50-Cent Aspirin Can Do What A Penny Aspirin Can't (Ariely, 2009)      
  •  Interestingly, the price has an impact on efficacy and is especially powerful in the context of medicine because of the value people place on health.
Study: At the University of Iowa, students who paid list price for cold medications throughout the semester reported better medical outcomes than those who bought discount (but clinically identical) drugs. What you pay for is often what you get.

The placebo effect is real & well-known. 
  • Placebos run on the power of suggestion – they are effective because people believe them. It's not just about fooling oneself though; they can trigger endorphins and other biological reactions that change body & experience (Ariely, 2009).

Study: Waber and colleagues (2008) created a fake painkiller, Veladone-Rx (VR). A beautiful, Russian woman in a business suit told participants that 92% of patients receiving VR reported pain relief in 10 minutes, with relief lasting up to 8 hours. When told that the price of the drug was $2.50 per dose, almost all reported pain relief. This contrasts significantly to only ½ the participants reporting pain relief when told that the price of the drug was $0.10 per dose. Participants were given a series of electrical shocks before & after administration of the drug. A reduction in perceived pain after taking VR was clearly shown – yet VR was just a Vitamin C pill.

Expectations change the way we perceive & appreciate experiences. Expensive things have a stronger placebo effect than less expensive things. It is interesting how our brain creates our reality.

-->STOP & rationally consider the link between the product and the price. It will result in the same outcome except for the amount of money in your wallet. Have faith in the cheaper alternatives! 

Ariely, D. (2009). Predictably irrational (pp. 173-195). New York: HarperCollins.
Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion (pp. 90-91). New York: Collins.

Waber, R. L., Shiv, B., Carmon, Z., & Ariely, D. (2008). Commercial features of placebo and therapeutic. Jama, 299(9), 1016-7.

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