Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Are you the just one who can make the coffee right at the office?

People care about what others think, and so do companies. This is the power of transparency. It enables everyone to make more informed choices, whether by buying a particular car because of its energy efficiency, by paying down debt more quickly because of the long-term consequences, or by working for or investing in a company that is more diverse and pays more equitably. Holding organizations accountable through disclosure and comply-or-explain approaches can make compliance the soft default. And the more behaviorally smart the shared information, the more likely it is going to move the needle toward increased transparency and gender equality. Designing Gender Equality--Behaviorally Informed Disclosure and Accountability Make information salient, simple, and comparable. Set both long-term targets and specific, short-term, achievable goals. Hold people and organizations accountable for their follow-through. Designing Change Sign #14: They do their best to get in your line of sight. When you're in the same space together, notice if they somehow always wind up in your line of sight, or if they somehow are always close to you, but not quite. They probably want to get to know you but aren't brave enough to start a conversation or want you to make the first move. Sign #15: They fidget suggestively. Here, if they're playing with their wine glass, or its stem, or whatever, but moving their hands in almost hypnotic, deliberate strokes as they focus on you, chances are they're interested and trying to flirt with you. Sign #16: They keep pointing out their flaws; If they're very self-deprecating as they make jokes, then they're trying to bond. It's also the case when they do that while casting light on your own strengths. They want you to get closer and help them with whatever flaw they perceive. Sign #17: It's all in the wrists.

By modifying the way you present data and showing it in a way that is easy to understand, you can reduce their reliance on anecdotal data, and encourage the decision to be more rational. You can do this by crafting the information in a way that encourages people to think rather than react intuitively. That in itself goes a long way in reducing cognitive biases. Certain people are also more inclined to simple explanations than complicated ones. Many people are likely to reject complex explanations as it allows them to believe that there can be a simpler alternative. A study was conducted to test this idea where people were told to think of ways in which a past event could have turned out differently. While we want to prime the listener/reader/viewer to think, we also don't want to inundate them with information. We want them to think of a few options, and then give them the time to think about it. Many biases can be mitigated if only you give yourself time to process. When you reflect on your reasoning process, you are more likely to think through different viewpoints and not rely too heavily on intuition. If I could send you off with one big takeaway, it would be this: we can reduce gender inequality. We will use all we know about how the mind works, how biases influence decisions and outcomes, and how behavioral design can alter these. We can effect this change not in a matter of decades but in a matter of years. Even good design cannot solve all our problems. But behavioral design is the most useful and underutilized tool we have. Truth be told, we collectively can do this only if you take part. I wrote What Works to give you the research-based insights, the confidence, and the practical advice necessary for designing your own changes at work or school. In this last article, I want to make it easier still. Let me start by introducing an acronym that may help you remember the promise of DESIGN. Good behavioral design starts with data.

Do they have their right wrist in their left hand? Then they're probably sensually available. If it's their left wrist in their right hand, they're probably hostile. Be mindful of this one though, since it could be different depending on whether they're left or right-handed, or ambidextrous. Three Steps to Successful Flirting Understanding the way flirting works from personal experience will help you spot when someone else is trying to flirt with you. Things will probably happen in a certain way or order. Think of it as a script you follow. Say you're at the movies. You know that things go a certain way. One way to do this is by setting a couple of routines or a system check, which allows you to slow down. Instead of reacting immediately, let the initial reaction subside, and then approach the situation again so that you can look at it from a fresh pair of eyes. Another way to encourage people to take more accountability without letting their opinions get in the way is involving them in a decision-making process. This increase in accountability will also encourage them to make better decisions. Also, discuss and get feedback from one another by asking people specific questions. Additionally, looking for flaws in a reasoning process can help you arrive at a more balanced answer. You will find that health gurus always tell you to alter your environment when you are trying to change your habits. And they're right. By creating a nudge in a certain direction, you can hinder a certain pattern of decision making. For example, if you go towards the fridge on a Friday night, and you find hummus instead of chocolate, you will be reminded of the choice you need to make.

How many men and women has your company hired and promoted, to what positions and at what salaries, over the past five years? Are boys and girls in your school gaining proficiency at reading, staying the same, or becoming less proficient? How many of the portraits in your organization's lobby or conference rooms are of women, and how many are of men? Armed with data, a behavioral designer must experiment. You do not start off in a design-free environment. In that sense, you are already participating in an experiment, just unknowingly and without the benefit of having a control group available. When you design your experiment, do so knowingly and responsibly. Adhere to the ethical standards set by entities such as the Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) overseeing experimentation at universities. Experiment with new signposts--on restaurant doors, in interview protocols, or on office walls--that use insights about human behavior to point people in more desirable directions. Remember the hotel key cards that automatically turn room lights on and off? First, you head over to the counter to get your ticket. Then you go get some popcorn and whatever else you want to snack on. Then you head to the cinema. The lights dim. The announcement asking you to turn off your cellphones comes on, and then the trailers start before you finally get to see the movie you paid for. This order of events helps to guide the way we behave and will also affect our expectations. We also use scripts in our relationships, expecting certain behaviors to happen in a certain order. It's all usually subtle and nonverbal. For instance, you wouldn't beat your chest like a caveman and say, Me. Well, maybe you've roleplayed that, but that's not the point.

You could also change the incentives related to certain decisions. Maybe you could reward non-biased thinking with positive social feedback, or you could increase the penalties for biased thinking. While human cognition is complex, and this approach can seem antagonizing, there are situations where such kind of thinking can help. For example, maybe you have a subordinate who you don't like as much and who doesn't share the same interests as you but is excellent at her work. By letting her lead a project, you might just make your team look good and have a hands off-approach, even if you don't have as much in common. And most importantly, when making unbiased decisions, you have to improve both your internal and external conditions. Many internal factors impact our ability to think such as sleep deprivation, fear, multitasking, etc Meanwhile, external conditions such as social pressure and high noise levels can also impact our cognitive capacity as well as demands. While there is no such thing as a perfect condition, even minor changes can help you adopt a more balanced approach. Internal conditions and creating a psychological distance is especially important because memory is subjective. Often we view situations based on what was important to us, not to the other people involved in the same memory. Find signposts that, like these keys, make it easy for our biased minds to make unbiased choices. Do not focus on changing minds--the very purpose of signposts is to help us find the way without having to memorize or even think much about it. So in brief: collect data to understand whether and why there is gender inequality; Finally, be sure to let colleagues know that in embracing DESIGN, they are joining an increasing number of governments, corporations, schools, and universities that, responding to the promise of behavioral insights to change behavior for good, have done the same. Consider savings. Millions have been added to people's retirement accounts in Denmark, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere through auto-enrollment, automatic employer contributions, active choice, and Save More Tomorrow plans where employees commit future rather than present earnings to savings accounts. To put this in perspective, recall the evidence from Denmark discussed in the first article. Every dollar of government expenditure on subsidies led to an increase in savings by one cent--but the United States keeps spending about $100 billion and the United Kingdom about $30 billion per year on subsidies. There are many more success stories. In the United Kingdom, the Behavioral Insights Team has helped increase the poor's university enrollment rates by 25 percent with pre-filled application forms, increased payment of taxes by up to 16 percent by reminding taxpayers of the prevalent norms, and encouraged healthy eating by having employees make their choices ahead of time.

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