Behavioral Economics and Our Brain’s Predisposition Towards the Negative

Newspaper-Reading-Woman-01Behavioral Economics and Our Brain’s Predisposition Towards the Negative

Traditional economic theory posits that people are rational and seek to maximize benefits when making choices.We implicitly buy into this view when we do research that includes only benefits that people seek. More specifically,we address most business questions using only positively worded attributes and often do not measure the negative.

Of late, however, Behavioral Economics has shown that our decision processes are far from rational. One of the greatest contributions of Behavioral Economics has been the finding that people have a strong inherent bias towards negative information. We are hardwired to pay attention to negative information and less so to positive information. This predisposition is an adaptive response to ensure our survival. A failure to notice positive stimuli is at most, an opportunity loss, but a failure to notice negative stimuli (e.g., a predator) could mean we cease to exist.

行為經濟學大腦對於負面訊息的偏好

傳統經濟理論認為人是理性的,在做決定的時候,會追求利益最大化。我們也必須含蓄地承認,當我們在做研究的時候,常常僅著墨於我們想了解的好處。更具體地說,我們常常只使用措辭正面的屬性選項來回答大部分的問題,而常常不衡量負面屬性選項。而這樣的情況常發生在品牌權益研究、概念測試、產品測試、消費者研究等。

然而,近代行為經濟學家已經證明,我們的決策過程常常都與理性相去甚遠。他們偉大的貢獻之一,就是發現人們對負面訊息有強大的偏好。人們總是很容易對負面訊息感到注意,卻對正面訊息較無感。這種傾向是一種確保生物生存的適應性反應(adaptive response)。當我們忽略了正面刺激,失去的最多只是機會的損失,但倘若未能注意到負面刺激(如捕食者)則可能意味我們沒有生存的本能。假使負面資訊確實這麼吸引人們注意,而我們做研究時卻只提供受訪者正面的屬性選項,這樣我們真的能夠完整且精確地知道消費者是如何做決策的嗎?

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