Human weakness

The old saying goes, knowing the person, knowing the person. In many cases, the biggest problem we face is not knowing enough about ourselves, and thus causing ourselves to make mistakes that could have been avoided.

In the following article, I will give some interesting examples to help you better understand such a problem: What are the natural weaknesses of our human beings? The significance of understanding these human weaknesses is that we can understand more deeply which weaknesses are more easily used by others to achieve their goals. At the same time, it can also help us to be vigilant and enhance the resilience to those invisible temptations.

The first question: Is lying a human nature?

Almost from the beginning of speaking, we are not educated by parents. I remember that my parents taught me from an early age that it doesn’t matter if you do something wrong, but if you lie, the problem can be much more serious.

From kindergarten, almost every child will hear stories like “Wolf is coming.” Children who lie will be punished, which is almost the same educational value in the world.

However, we also found that even if we were educated and honestly since childhood, many of us often lie after we reach adulthood. And these lie behaviors are almost universal in our work, family and social activities. Then the question comes: Are we human beings born to be liar?

Let me share a very interesting experiment with you. The experiment came from Dan Ariely, a famous American psychology professor, and was recorded in one of his books, The honest truth about dishonesty.

This experiment is like this. The researchers convened a group of volunteers to do 10 math problems. They only completed the test in 5 minutes each. After completing the problem, the volunteers were told to stuff their test papers into a shredder. Therefore, they need to truthfully report to the invigilator that they have done a few questions. At the same time they were told that the number of questions they completed was related to the rewards they received. For example, if a person reports 10 questions, he will get $10. If he reports that he has completed 5 questions, he will get $5. And so on.

A key detail that these volunteers don’t know is that the shredder was hand-footed. Even after the test paper was smashed into the shredder, the test paper was not destroyed, but was collected by the researchers.

Through these secretly collected papers, the researchers came up with some very interesting findings. For example, in these papers, the volunteers completed an average of 4 questions per person, but the average number of completions reported by them was 6 questions. In other words, most of the volunteers are lying, that is, they have overstated the number of questions they have completed. But they also have control over their degree of lying, because they did not boast of Haikou to report 10 questions to get the highest reward.

This example is a good illustration of human nature: if there is an opportunity, we will choose to earn a little more for ourselves by lying. This benefit can be more money, less work time (lazy), or higher fame. But we also have a scale in our hearts, so most of us will not magnify our lies without limit.

The second question: Is theft a human nature?

Stealing is one of the most ugly acts that many people hate. From the time we talk, our parents keep telling us that even if we are poor, we can’t steal things.

Anyone who knows that his or her behavior is under the surveillance of the camera will definitely check his self-discipline and never take the initiative to challenge the boundaries of the law. But what happens to our behavior if we don’t monitor it? The following example also comes from “The honest truth about dishonesty”, I am here to share with you.

The researchers placed a large refrigerator in a public hall and placed six bottles of Coca-Cola and six one-dollar coins in the refrigerator. The price of cola is $1 per bottle. So the value of cola and coins is the same. The refrigerator door is not locked, and anyone can switch the refrigerator at any time. There is no notice on the door of the refrigerator that “everything in this refrigerator is free” or “all things in this refrigerator need to be charged”.

Two weeks later, when the researchers opened the refrigerator again, they found that all the colas were gone, and all the coins were still there. They repeated the same experiment several times, each time the cola was taken away by the passing crowd, and the coins remained in the refrigerator.

From a business value point of view, taking away a bottle of cola that is worth one dollar and not taking one dollar that is not your own is a “stolen” dollar. But most people choose to take cola, not coins. It can be seen that in people’s minds, there is still a very clear boundary: stealing coins is stealing, while stealing cola is not stealing.

Or, if you can’t get rid of it, most people choose to swindle (theft). But they also set a moral limit for themselves, that is, they don’t commit crimes that everyone thinks are obviously stealing. And in those ambiguous theft, many people will be much more relaxed about their own requirements.

The third question: Do we know what we want?

The premise of a person making a rational choice is that he first needs to know exactly what he wants. If he doesn’t even know his own preferences, then he is unlikely to make sensible decisions.

But the problem is precisely that there are many studies that show that our human decision-making lacks consistency and logic. Many times, even if you face the same problem, the same person may make diametrically opposed or even contradictory choices.

The famous psychologist Kahneman mentioned such an example in an academic paper he published. Suppose there is a possibility of a large-scale virus cold in a city, and now the government needs to choose whether to invest 100 million US dollars to deal with such a virus threat. The researchers asked the following two different questions for the two groups:

A) Investing 100 million US dollars can prevent 90% of the population from being infected with the virus;

B) It is worth 100 million US dollars, but 10% of the population is still free from infection.

In fact, A) and B) are talking about the same thing. But most people chose “yes” under A) and “no” under B). It can be seen that even if it is the same problem, when the way of asking questions is different, people will make different answers.

In another academic paper, Kahneman offers a different, but also very interesting, example.

The testees first need to put their hands in a tank of cold water, hold on for 1 minute, and report their pain. In another group of controls, the testees were asked to put their hands in ice water for one and a half minutes. The difference is that in the last 30 seconds of this one and a half minutes, the researchers secretly put some warm water into the ice water. The testee was then asked to report his level of pain.

Surprisingly, those who endured for 1 minute in ice water reported much more pain than those who had endured 1 minute and a half in ice water. This is hard to understand, because those who endure 1 and a half minutes in ice water should be at least as painful as those who endure 1 minute in ice water. But the experimental results are quite the opposite.

There is a more interesting experiment about whether people know what they want. The researchers (Husband, 1934) blinded some smokers’ eyes and asked them to guess the brand of their smoke. It turned out that these smokers could not judge their brand from the smoked cigarettes.

That is to say, when we buy cigarettes, many times it is not directed at the taste of the cigarette, but for other reasons. For example, the middle class may feel that it should be a double happiness. A bit of leadership seems to be soft and soft, while white-collar workers working in foreign companies may feel that they must smoke. These people smoked not the taste of the cigarette itself, but an identity, a feeling, and a self-identity. In fact, this is also the tobacco company’s sales strategy: the key is not the taste of the cigarette itself, but it makes you feel what brand you should draw in order to meet your identity and grade.

Business and personal: hunters and prey

These theoretical studies show that we humans have many human weaknesses. We often don’t know our true needs, so it is difficult to make completely rational and objective decisions. At the same time, we will use all possible opportunities to make limited lying and deception. From the company’s point of view, if there is a lure of profit, then without being debunked, the commercial entity composed of people will be as cheap as possible to occupy the majority of consumers (others). In other words, between business and individuals, It is a veritable game between hunters and prey.

Let me share a few examples here to illustrate this issue.

The picture above shows the old and new generations of slot machines, the old ones on the left and the relatively new ones on the right. The old-fashioned slot machine has a mechanical handle on the side. After each gambler’s bet, you need to hold the handle with your hand and pull it down before you can start the game. The new slot machine, the mechanical handle has long since disappeared, replaced by the buttons at the bottom of the screen.

Why is the design of the slot machine so modified? The learning behind this is great. According to the study (Dow Schull, 2012), the optimal time interval between each gamble is 3.5 seconds. Old-fashioned slot machine design has the following drawbacks: First, if the gambler has to shake the handle every time, then the long time is easy to cause fatigue, which will affect the total length of time they sit in front of the slot machine. Second, the old-fashioned slot machine took too long to spit out coins. If a gambler occasionally wins a prize for a few thousand prizes, it may take a long time to collect the coins that have been won.

The new electric slot machine has been modified to correct the above mentioned shortcomings. Modern slot machines no longer spit coins, but instead changed to electronic money, directly transferring money on the gambler’s game card, thus greatly shortening the time difference between the tourists receiving the bounty. At the same time, the modern slot machine retains the whistle-stricken tradition of celebrating music when the gambler wins the grand prize: this is to inform all the gamblers in the casino, someone is on the slot machine, so you can also try your luck!

User spending habits big data that is being valued by more and more merchants is another very good example. According to a study (Shiller, 2013), if US video content company Netflix develops different price discrimination strategies based on different preferences of different users, the company can increase profits by approximately $23 million in 2012. .

In fact, the price discrimination strategy has always been an effective weapon that many companies have dreamed of to increase their company’s income. And if you want to implement an effective price discrimination strategy, then the company needs an effective system to identify the consumer preferences and habits of different users, and the highest price they are willing to pay for the same service. Some studies (Mikians, 2012) point out that US companies such as Amazon, Staples and Steam have implemented differentiated price discrimination strategies among different countries around the world, and the price difference between the same products and services in different places is as high as 166%.

Over time, if big data is used more effectively by more and more companies, then we may see more detailed price discrimination. It is no exaggeration to say that the user’s big data is a revolutionary weapon, let our consumers become prey, and the business becomes a hunter. Unconsciously, we will be “fed” by the merchants to “fish baits” that are the easiest to hook themselves, so that they can purchase the products or services they provide. This is one of the reasons why technology companies that are committed to developing big data are sought after.

Because of some natural weaknesses in human nature, we have become both anglers and small fish. In this game between the hunter and the hunter, only by raising their own knowledge and deeply understanding their weaknesses, it is possible to avoid themselves becoming the prey of others, and unconsciously fall into “passive demand” and “passive consumption.” “The trap.

I hope to be helpful.

Data Sources:

Ariely, D. (2012). The honest truth about dishonesty. HarperCollins.

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1985). The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice. In Environmental Impact Assessment, Technology Assessment, and Risk Analysis (pp. 107-129). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Husband, R. W., & Godfrey, J. (1934). An experimental study of cigarette identification. Journal of Applied Psychology, 18(2), 220.

Kahneman, D., Fredrickson, B. L., Schreiber, C. A., & Redelmeier, D. A. (1993). When more pain is preferred to less: Adding a better end.Psychological science, 4(6), 401-405.

Dow Schull, N. (2012). Addiction by design. Princeton, NJ.

Shiller, B. R. (2013). Digital distribution and the prohibition of resale markets for
information goods. Quantitative Marketing and Economics, 11(4), 403-435.

Mikians, J., Gyarmati, L., Erramilli, V., & Laoutaris, N. (2012, October). Detecting price and search discrimination on the internet. In Proceedings of the 11th ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks (pp. 79-84). ACM.