The Smarter Screen: Surprising Ways to Influence and Improve Online Behavior

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9780143108757: The Smarter Screen: Surprising Ways to Influence and Improve Online Behavior

A leading behavioral economist reveals the tools that will improve our decision making on screens

Office workers spend the majority of their waking hours staring at screens. Unfortunately, few of us are aware of the visual biases and behavioral patterns that influence our thinking when we’re on our laptops, iPads, smartphones, or smartwatches. The sheer volume of information and choices available online, combined with the ease of tapping "buy," often make for poor decision making on screens.

In The Smarter Screen, behavioral economist Shlomo Benartzi reveals a tool kit of interventions for the digital age. Using engaging reader exercises and provocative case studies, Benartzi shows how digital designs can influence our decision making on screens in all sorts of surprising ways.

For example: 
· You’re more likely to add bacon to your pizza if you order online. 
· If you read this book on a screen, you’re less likely to remember its content. 
· You might buy an item just because it’s located in a screen hot spot, even if better options are available. 
· If you shop using a touch screen, you’ll probably overvalue the product you’re considering. 
· You’re more likely to remember a factoid like this one if it’s displayed in an ugly, difficult-to-read font. 

Drawing on the latest research on digital nudging, Benartzi reveals how we can create an online world that helps us think better, not worse.
From the Hardcover edition.

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

SHLOMO BENARTZI is a professor and cochair of the Behavioral Decision-Making Group at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. He is the author of Save More Tomorrow and Thinking Smarter. He has extensive experience applying behavioral economic insights to the real world, having increased the savings rates of millions of Americans through his work with Richard Thaler on Save More Tomorrow, and has advised many government agencies and businesses.

JONAH LEHRER is a science writer living in Los Angeles.
From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This book would not exist without the help of many people. I benefited from huge amounts of feedback, both during the development of the ideas in this book and during the writing process. First, I was incredibly fortunate to get access to many brilliant academics, scientists, and colleagues, who were kind enough to read various drafts of the chapters and offer their insights and comments. I’m very grateful to Peter Ayton, Maya Bar-Hillel, Tibor Besedes, Saurabh Bhargava, Barbara Fasolo, Gavan Fitzsimons, Craig Fox, Dan Goldstein, Noah Goldstein, Michael Hallsworth, David Halpern, Hal Hershfield, Eric Johnson, Yaron Levi, George Loewenstein, Katy Milkman, Daniel Oppenheimer, Katharina Reinecke, Elena Reutskaja, and Philip Tetlock.

A few friends deserve special mention, as they devoted many hours to the book and improved it in countless ways. If it weren’t for David Faro, John Payne, and Richard Thaler, The Smarter Screen would be far less smart.

I was also lucky enough to get valuable input from many friends in the industry. A big thank you to David Collyer, Udo Frank, Bill Harris, Thomas MacNeil, Charlie Nelson, Cathy Smith, and Matt Stewart. Danny Kalish read every chapter, often more than once, and offered many important insights that led me in new directions.

It was crucial to me that this book be as accurate as possible. Steve Shu, my very good friend, spearheaded the fact-checking process. In addition, I’m very grateful for the time and diligence of Jolie Martin, Amit Runchal, Namika Sagara, and Hadas Sella. They combed through every citation and double-checked every fact and quote. All remaining mistakes are my own.

This book was guided by a skilled team at Portfolio. I owe a big thank you to Adrian Zackheim for seeing the potential in a book about behavioral economics in the digital age. And my editor, Niki Papadopoulos, helped ensure the book was as readable and engaging as possible.

I want to thank my collaborator, Jonah Lehrer, an amazing friend and brilliant writer. We had a great time working on this book together. It could never have been written without him.

Last, but definitely not least, I want to thank my family. Shalom, my dad, and Leah, my mom, for everything they taught me. My wife, Lesli, and Maya, my little girl, put up with many late nights and countless discussions about the material in this book. They inspire me every day.

INTRODUCTION

On October 1, 2013, the United States government launched a new Web site, www.healthcare.gov, that was designed to help people choose health insurance. In essence, the site was a shopping portal, allowing consumers to compare prices and features on all of the insurance plans available in their local area. Because the government hoped to sign up millions of uninsured Americans, they decided to rely on the scale of the Web.

While most of the media coverage of the Web site centered around its glaring technical glitches, very little attention was paid to a potentially far more important issue: Did the Web site actually help consumers find the best insurance plans? Given the reach of Obamacare, even seemingly minor design details could have a huge impact, influencing a key financial decision in the lives of millions of Americans.

Unfortunately, research suggests that most people probably made poor insurance choices on the Web site. A study conducted by Saurabh Bhargava, George Loewenstein, and me demonstrated that the typical subject using a simulated version of healthcare.gov chose a plan that was $888 more expensive than it needed to be.1 This was equivalent to roughly 3 percent of their income. Meanwhile, an earlier study, led by Eric Johnson at Columbia University, found that giving consumers more health care options on sites like healthcare .gov dramatically decreased their ability to find the best plan. In fact, even offering people a modest degree of choice meant that nearly 80 percent of them picked suboptimally.2

Can this problem be fixed? The online world offers us more alternatives than ever before: the average visitor to healthcare.gov was offered forty-seven different insurance plans,3 while Zappos.com features more than twenty-five thousand women’s shoes. But how should Web sites help us choose better?

On the morning of February 21, 2010, an American Predator drone began tracking a pickup truck and two SUVs traveling on a road near the village of Shahidi Hassas in southern Afghanistan. As the drone followed the vehicles, it beamed a live video feed to a crew of analysts based at Creech Air Force Base outside Las Vegas.4

Such intelligence is now a staple of modern warfare. The CIA used drones to gather intel on Osama bin Laden’s hideout; the Israeli Defense Forces flew dozens of unmanned aircraft over Gaza during the recent conflict; the United States Air Force accumulated more than five hundred hours of aerial video footage every single day in Afghanistan and Iraq.5

This flood of information creates an obvious problem: someone has to process it. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that drone crews are often overwhelmed by the visual data. One study, led by Ryan McKendrick at George Mason University, showed that people simulating the multitasking environment of drone operators performed worse on an air defense task;6 another experiment, which looked at gunners in armored vehicles, found that the soldiers failed to perform their primary task effectively—noticing the bad guys—when a second task was added to the list.7 In experiment after experiment, the surplus of digital information creates blind spots on the screen.8

That’s what happened to the analysts tracking those vehicles in southern Afghanistan. According to an internal military investigation,9 the cubicle warriors in Nevada couldn’t handle all of the available information as they toggled back and forth among the video feed, radio chatter, and numerous instant messages. As a result, they failed to notice that the truck and SUVs were actually filled with civilians. And so the drone operators gave the order to fire, unleashing a barrage of Hellfire missiles and rockets. Twenty-three innocent people were killed in the attack.

How can we make such tragedies less likely to happen? What should the Air Force and CIA do to minimize the risk of blind spots on screens? And how can other organizations, from financial institutions to hospitals, deal with the same problem of digital information overload?

On December 14, 2013, Jessica Seinfeld used the Uber app to drop her children off across town at a bar mitzvah and a sleepover.10 Unfortunately, the ride took place in the midst of a New York City snowstorm, which meant that Uber had put surge pricing into effect. (When demand for drivers is high—say, during a blizzard, or on New Year’s Eve—Uber systematically raises its rates to entice more drivers to enter the marketplace.) During this storm, demand for drivers was so high that some Manhattan customers were charged 8.25 times the normal fare. Although Uber warned its customers about the surcharge before they ordered a ride, the warning clearly wasn’t effective, as social media soon lit up with complaints of price gouging. Jessica Seinfeld, for instance, posted a picture of her $415 Uber bill on Instagram, while many others lamented their crosstown rides that cost more than $150.11 Uber had provided a valuable service—helping people get home in a bad storm—but had also angered a lot of customers. It’s never a good sign when your company is the reason people are tweeting the hashtag #neveragain.

The surge pricing problem is indicative of a more common digital hazard, which is that people often think very fast on screens. Uber customers, of course, benefit from this quick pace, as the streamlined app makes it easy for people to book rides with a few taps of the thumb. However, when surge pricing is in effect that same effortless ease can backfire, since consumers book rides on their phone without realizing how much the rides are going to cost.

How should Uber fix its app? Is there any way to help consumers avoid online decisions they’ll soon regret?

These three stories illustrate a few of the many ways in which the digital revolution is changing the way we live, from the analysis of military intelligence to the booking of taxi rides. They reveal an age in which we have more information and choices than ever before, and are able to act on them with breathtaking speed. But these stories are also a reminder of the profound challenges that remain. We have more choices, but we choose the wrong thing. We have more information, but we somehow miss the most relevant details. We can act quickly, but that often means we act without thinking.

It’s a cliché to complain about these trends. It’s easy to lament all the ways the online world leaves us confused and distracted, forgetful and frazzled.

This book is not about those complaints. It is not about how smartphones make us stupid. It is not a requiem for some predigital paradise.

Instead, this book is about how screens can be designed to make us smarter. It’s a book of behavioral solutions and practical tools that can improve our digital lives. It’s about how the same technological trends that lead people to buy the wrong insurance plan and book a $415 taxi ride can be turned into powerful digital opportunities, rooted in the latest research about how we think and choose on smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Here are three examples of potential solutions. If you want to encourage people to select the best health care plan, or choose the right product on your Web site, then you might want to consider a choice tournament modeled on Wimbledon and March Madness. (Instead of giving people all the options at once, you divide the best options into different rounds—work led by Tibor Besedes shows this dramatically improves decision making.)12

And if you want to help intelligence analysts avoid blind spots, it’s often helpful to zoom out and provide fewer details about the scene. (In a real-world study conducted in Israel, providing less detailed feedback led to big improvements in decision making among investors.13 I bet it would also help drone operators.) This fix is not just about giving people less information—it’s also about using new information compression technologies to help us cope with our limited attention.

Finally, companies like Uber can do a better job of educating their customers—and thus avoiding a mob of angry ones—by carefully deploying ugly fonts on their Web sites and apps.14 (This runs counter to the common belief that information should always be as easy to process as possible.) The same approach can also be used to close the digital reading gap, as many studies suggest that we read significantly worse on screens than we do on paper.15

These are just a few suggestions for how businesses and governments can use the tools and tactics of behavioral science to improve our online behavior. This book is filled with many more examples, as I believe we are on the cusp of a huge opportunity: By taking advantage of this practical research, we can dramatically boost the quality of our digital decisions. We can see better, learn more, and regret less.

So why am I, a behavioral economist, writing this book? I have devoted my career to studying the mistakes people make so that we might learn to avoid them. For example, in my research with Richard Thaler, a behavioral economist and coauthor of the book Nudge,16 we used psychological insights to help four million employees significantly boost their savings rates using the Save More Tomorrow program.17 That’s the good news. The bad news is that it took us fifteen years to reach that many people. What’s worse, there are still tens of millions of Americans whom we failed to help, and who still aren’t saving enough. I have been continually frustrated by the slow pace of this process.

My hope is that we can use the scale of technology to bring more fixes to more people in far less time. After all, if you want to influence citizens and customers in the twenty-first century, you don’t have to knock on their doors, or interrupt them on the street—you can just interact with them online, using the reach of the digital world to quickly contact vast numbers of people with minimal effort. In fact, influencing behavior on screens can be so efficient and effective that I believe we have a chance to help a billion people think smarter and choose wiser. That’s right: billion. With a b.

However, this opportunity comes with an important caveat: in order to take advantage of these digital nudges, I believe we need to tailor them for our new online environment. Although we like to pretend that our brain isn’t altered by technology, new evidence suggests that these splendid inventions are shifting the patterns of our behavior in all sorts of subtle ways. What’s more, these shifts are often predictable, allowing us to anticipate how people will act on a device, and how they will respond to our interventions. (We can even explain some consistent quirks of digital behavior, such as why people value items more when shopping on a tablet,18 or why they will probably get lower scores when taking the SAT on a computer,19 or why they order pizza with more calories when ordering off a Web site.20) The end result is that we need to update our behavioral toolkit for the digital age. This book will give you the tools you need now, at least if you want to nudge people the right way on screens.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying your head has been rewired by your smartphone. (Human nature evolved over millions of years; it’s unlikely to be transformed in a decade or two.) Nevertheless, there are many relevant differences in offline versus online thinking, which should be reflected in the designs of our screens. And since every business is now a digital business, and nearly every consumer is making important decisions on their gadgets, it’s incredibly important that we get these designs right. The medium of information and decision making has changed. So should our interventions and nudges.

Of course, this is all very new research, which means that a few disclaimers are in order. Some of the studies in this book directly compare online and offline behavior, while other studies are more suggestive. When the evidence is more speculative, I will make that clear. In addition, these behavioral tools won’t be able to solve every digital problem. While we can design screens that might make it easier to deal with information overload and choose better insurance, we’re not going to completely eliminate online mistakes or mollify every upset Uber customer.

Technological revolutions provide us with a rare opportunity to fundamentally reimagine how we think and live. Who could have guessed that, one day, many of the most important military decisions would be made on a computer? Or that the layout of a Web site would determine how many millions of Americans will get health care insurance and 401(k) accounts? Or that the smartphone would be the last thing most of us see at night and the first thing we see in the morning?

We are living in a world increasingly made of zeros and ones...

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Descripción PORTFOLIO, United States, 2017. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A leading behavioral economist reveals the tools that will improve our decision making on screens Office workers spend the majority of their waking hours staring at screens. Unfortunately, few of us are aware of the visual biases and behavioral patterns that influence our thinking when we re on our laptops, iPads, smartphones, or smartwatches. The sheer volume of information and choices available online, combined with the ease of tapping -buy, - often make for poor decision making on screens. In The Smarter Screen, behavioral economist Shlomo Benartzi reveals a tool kit of interventions for the digital age. Using engaging reader exercises and provocative case studies, Benartzi shows how digital designs can influence our decision making on screens in all sorts of surprising ways. For example: - You re more likely to add bacon to your pizza if you order online. - If you read this book on a screen, you re less likely to remember its content. - You might buy an item just because it s located in a screen hot spot, even if better options are available. - If you shop using a touch screen, you ll probably overvalue the product you re considering. - You re more likely to remember a factoid like this one if it s displayed in an ugly, difficult-to-read font. Drawing on the latest research on digital nudging, Benartzi reveals how we can create an online world that helps us think better, not worse. From the Hardcover edition. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780143108757

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Descripción PORTFOLIO, United States, 2017. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A leading behavioral economist reveals the tools that will improve our decision making on screens Office workers spend the majority of their waking hours staring at screens. Unfortunately, few of us are aware of the visual biases and behavioral patterns that influence our thinking when we re on our laptops, iPads, smartphones, or smartwatches. The sheer volume of information and choices available online, combined with the ease of tapping -buy, - often make for poor decision making on screens. In The Smarter Screen, behavioral economist Shlomo Benartzi reveals a tool kit of interventions for the digital age. Using engaging reader exercises and provocative case studies, Benartzi shows how digital designs can influence our decision making on screens in all sorts of surprising ways. For example: - You re more likely to add bacon to your pizza if you order online. - If you read this book on a screen, you re less likely to remember its content. - You might buy an item just because it s located in a screen hot spot, even if better options are available. - If you shop using a touch screen, you ll probably overvalue the product you re considering. - You re more likely to remember a factoid like this one if it s displayed in an ugly, difficult-to-read font. Drawing on the latest research on digital nudging, Benartzi reveals how we can create an online world that helps us think better, not worse. From the Hardcover edition. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780143108757

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Descripción PORTFOLIO, United States, 2017. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. A leading behavioral economist reveals the tools that will improve our decision making on screens Office workers spend the majority of their waking hours staring at screens. Unfortunately, few of us are aware of the visual biases and behavioral patterns that influence our thinking when we re on our laptops, iPads, smartphones, or smartwatches. The sheer volume of information and choices available online, combined with the ease of tapping -buy, - often make for poor decision making on screens. In The Smarter Screen, behavioral economist Shlomo Benartzi reveals a tool kit of interventions for the digital age. Using engaging reader exercises and provocative case studies, Benartzi shows how digital designs can influence our decision making on screens in all sorts of surprising ways. For example: - You re more likely to add bacon to your pizza if you order online. - If you read this book on a screen, you re less likely to remember its content. - You might buy an item just because it s located in a screen hot spot, even if better options are available. - If you shop using a touch screen, you ll probably overvalue the product you re considering. - You re more likely to remember a factoid like this one if it s displayed in an ugly, difficult-to-read font. Drawing on the latest research on digital nudging, Benartzi reveals how we can create an online world that helps us think better, not worse. From the Hardcover edition. Nº de ref. de la librería BTE9780143108757

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