Top 10 Dan Ariely Insights – World Innovation Forum

by Braden Kelley


Taking a slightly different approach than other World Innovation Forum bloggers, I’ve distilled the 90 minutes with Dan Ariely down into these Top 10 Insights:

  1. Dan Ariely suffered extensive burns when he was younger and what he learned about prolonged pain (and removing lots of bandages) is that while going quickly (to get it over with), you also need to take breaks and recover (the mind can only absorb so much pain – or change – at once)
  2. Optical illusions are an analogy for how our intense focus causes us to miss key indicators of change
  3. Why do some countries have more organ donors than others? It’s as simple as using opt-out instead of opt-in.
  4. The way we ask questions causes people to reflect differently on how they answer
  5. Not all choices are there to be picked – some are there for comparison – to make picking other choices easier (a dummy choice being present can actually change the choices people make)
  6. Just because people are switching tasks more these days, it doesn’t mean they don’t still lose a great deal of productivity doing so
  7. Ariely did research into cheating and found that most people cheat – and they tend to cheat just a little bit – amount of reward and probability of being caught did not matter
  8. Getting people to sign at the top of form that they are telling the truth increases accuracy more than bottom
  9. The more steps a choice is removed from real money – the more likely people are to cheat or steal
  10. We design to overcome physical limitations – we know we’re not supermen – with mental limitations – we think the opposite

Finally, I’d like to end with a couple of bonus fun facts from Dan Ariely on cheating:

  • Cheating across countries is constant (once all parties agree that something is cheating)
  • Between bankers and politicians – Bankers actually cheat twice as much

Updated May 24, 2009 – Here are the slides from Dan Ariely’s presentation at the World Innovation Forum:

Updated May 28, 2009 – Added some videos of Dan Ariely speaking at TED

What do you think?

Braden Kelley (@innovate on Twitter)

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