Somebody tell me what I want


Pic Herdmeister's own (from kiosk at Weybridge Station)

One of the oddest things about doing the work that I do is the reactions people have to the core idea: many of the behaviours and choices which we think we do independently turn out to be shaped by the choices of others. Looking at some car market data this week is a great example: even I was surprised to see how clearly the kind of social signatures we describe in our latest book fall out of the sales data. 

But not everyone finds it so easy to embrace the social thing. For example, I have been involved this week in a long debate on a LinkedIn BE group (I know I shouldn't) about smoking and smoking cessation – actually it's ended up being a debate about thinking and not thinking. It's striking there how some people really do feel that they are active authors of their own lives – making independent "decisions" left, right and centre, like this decisive kinda guy, maybe?

These kinds of people find it really hard to accept that their experience (or recalled experience, most commonly) of highly conscious executive decision-making is largely illusory (or even that they might be an exception to the cognitive rule): in general terms, our conscious minds are (as Kahnemann points out) more Press Office than Oval Office, more sense-maker than decision-maker. And much of the time (in our oversupplied modern world), the popularity heuristic – what she's having – seems to work just dandy; that and recency "what we did last time". 

Im sure I'll be trying IHWSH in a moment, when we head off to the pub. Somebody tell me what I want – maybe I'll just have what she's having.

Have a nice weekend, all. Wherever you are.