In October 2017, I posted a blog on Daniel Kahneman’s principle of loss aversion and how the emotion of losing something drives behavior more than winning the same amount. https://www.tildensst.com/2017/10/17/whats-on-the-other-guys-mind-loss-aversion/. A little more than a year later, I have been reminded of another Kahneman notion of framing.
My family doctor is an interesting guy for several reasons, one of which is that along with his doctor of osteopathy (DO) degree he holds a masters in business administration (MBA). During my recent annual physical our conversation turned to shingles vaccinations. Knowing that I am a skeptic of big pharma pushing unnecessary drugs (just look at the opioid epidemic!), he put it this way. “It depends on how the doc frames these results”:
1/3 No Shingles 1/3 Less Severe Form 1/3 Full Blown
A doc could say that with the vaccination, the risk of the more severe form of shingles is reduced by two-thirds (A). Or, equally correct, the doc could say that with the vaccination you still have a two-thirds chance of getting some form of shingles (B).
Basically, it comes down to a gamble. Research by Kahneman and his research partner Amos Tversky shows that since we are risk adverse (the topic of the October 2017 blog) most would gamble to get the vaccination if framed as A. However, if the doctor frames the choice as B, there would likely be a different outcome.
Incorporating the 2017 blog on loss aversion, there are three key Kahneman influenced principles to be mindful of when communicating business messages: 1 recognize that “the emotional tail wags the rational dog”; 2 be aware that decision makers weigh potential losses more heavily than they weigh gains and;3 appreciate that the words you choose to frame a proposal can play a major role in shaping decisions that get made.