ellie <3 libraries

sooooo much!

ALA 2008 – Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions July 11, 2008

Filed under: ALA 2008,Conferences — ellie @ 3:07 pm

I was lucky enough to be on the panel for this one, so I don’t have very detailed notes, but here are some of my take away ideas:

Applying the jam study to our presentation of library databases. In the jam study some shoppers were shown a display of 8 jams and others were shown a display of 24 jams, both were allowed to sample as many as they wanted and given a coupon. Both groups sampled an average of one point something flavors, but the people in the group who saw the display of 8 jams were more likely to then go buy a jam. The message is that people are overwhelmed by too many choices, fewer choices leads to action, too many leads to inaction. We confuse and overwhelm by offering so many choices right off the bat.

Another study involved having one group of people write 3 reasons they loved their partner and another group write 10. The group that wrote 3 ended up describing themselves as more satisfied in the relationship than the group that had to try to come up with 10 things (a harder task). The message here is that we infer what is appropriate from the scale given to us. I made a note to think of the implications for information literacy instruction.

Short version of free chocolate study – at very cheap prices people chose to buy the higher quality truffles over the Hershey’s kisses (or were willing to trade less chocolate for more) but once free was introduced into the equation people always chose the free thing even when the truffle (or bigger candy bar) was the better deal economically.

In answer to my question about how libraries can leverage the power of free Dr. Ariely explained that the study was a controlled experiment and used items of known quality. Library services don’t have the known/established qualities of truffles/Hershey’s kisses. So then you get into the question of quality with free. He suggested playing towards regret – we hate wasting things. If we don’t have a sense of the value of the item, letting it go is not a loss. Play to guilt of not using. Consider fees to make people change perspective.

He also touched on the importance of explaining why we’re doing something. This pretty much applies to all aspects of life, but particularly management, team work and instruction.

We rely too much on external motivation rather than internal motivation.

His ideal library would be one that can tell him what is there in life that you should be interested in.

He suggested having intellectual series at the library.

Push for experimenting.

Another story – with online dating sites people were just sending out tons of messages figuring the more they sent the more likely they were to get a reply from someone. They also sent to people far out of their league. The result was actually fewer replies. They introduced the idea of a virtual rose. You only got 8 of them, so the sender and receiver knew they were special. Applying this to libraries – what about a voucher to talk to a librarian. Something to show/increase perceived value.

More coverage at Bluebrarian


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