This week we ask the question of whether behavioural research can get into the wrong hands (we ourselves have long-suspected the North Korean govt reads this bulletin). And we explore the most effective word triggers for click-bait, what people mean by fairness, and which values groups are most retrospective.
And of course, there’s Charlie’s Attic, which this week includes the chart to end all charts, showing which Friends character drank the most coffee over the lifespan of the programme – as well as a countdown of all 63 ways of crossing the Thames.
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‘Helping the other side?’
Image taken from original source
An article this week posited a fascinating question: should efforts be made to stop psychological research falling into the wrong hands? Might scam artists or those with an anti-inclusive agenda take advantage of findings? And if so should the government be more careful, in the way they might with biological research?
This actually raises deeper ethical issues about nudge approaches in social marketing and marketing generally. Where do we draw the line between using theories for good and using them for something else?
Also, this week, these charts show the impact, over the last decade, of the smoking ban –the most far-reaching public health policy in recent times. Meanwhile, this chart shows the most shared ‘word triggers’ online. It finds that “will make you” is far and away most common – perhaps suggesting a latent desire for personal transformation?
‘Fair and neutral’
What does fairness look like? This article describes three ways of framing policies using fairness:
fairness as ‘charity’ (helping the neediest most)
fairness as ‘reciprocity’ (returning favours)
fairness as ‘impartiality’ (having no viewpoint or personal stake)
Findings show a huge preference for the latter – impartiality. This is a fascinating outcome, and will please fans of both Adam Smith’s ‘impartial spectator’ theory, and of John Rawls’ ‘veil of ignorance’ concept. While it might feel abstract in the context of 2017 policy-making, it potentially offers a solution for politicians struggling to please electorates with diverse views.
Indeed, maybe it gives an alternative reading of why trust is so low: politicians are seen as strident or partisan in their respective notions of fairness – whereas the electorate in fact wants them to exude neutrality.
We recently came across this pair of ‘confirmation bias’ goggles advertised online and developed by the council of Scarfolk – a fictional town, forever stuck in the 1970s. This prompted us to pull out the old school blackboard and put retrospection in the values lab.
% who agree of strongly agree that…
“I need clear cut rules to live by. I like things to be certain and predictable.”
“I believe I have had a raw deal from life. I have little to expect from the future.”
“If people want to have children, they should get married. I think families should stay together for the sake of the children, even if the parents don’t get on.”
“Programmable equipment scares me. I find science and technology remote and incomprehensible.”
The results are as you’d expect for Pioneers and Settlers, with the letter more averse to aspects of the modern world. The surprise though – and it’s a big one – is the high Prospector scores. This is a group we traditionally think of as in awe of all things cutting edge…
A key aspect of the Prospector mindset is wanting an existing framework in place, so they can excel within it. Hence, it’s not really a surprise they want clearer rules. And it’s notable that they’re often personally optimistic, even if not optimistic for society – with more agency and self-efficacy than Settlers. The bottom question, however, is truly inexplicable. Prospectors tend to be younger and more plugged in, after all, so it’s a real surprise so many are daunted by technology.
And finally this week, Charlie’s Attic, the part of the e-bulletin that’s still fighting the space race:
Check out our latest engagement work in Essex was hosted by a wonderful pub, who cooked no less than three cakes to help people feel familiar and comfortable (pictured)