The Decoy Effect

Posted on February 4, 2008  Comments (2)

The Decoy Effect, or How to Win an Election

The human brain, however, always seeks simple answers. Enter the third candidate. Huber told some people there was also a choice of a four-star restaurant that was farther away than the five-star option. People now gravitated toward the five-star choice, since it was better and closer than the third candidate. (The three-star restaurant was closer, but not as good as the new candidate.)

Another group was given a different third candidate, a two-star restaurant halfway between the first two. Many people now chose the three-star restaurant, because it beat the new option on convenience and quality. (The five-star restaurant outdid this third candidate on only one measure, quality.)

What the decoy effect basically shows is that when people cannot decide between two front-runners, they use the third candidate as a sort of measuring stick. If one front-runner looks much better than the third candidate, people gravitate toward that front-runner. Third candidates, in other words, can make a complicated decision feel simple.

Related: Too Much ChoiceSummer Camp Psychology Experiment

2 Responses to “The Decoy Effect”

  1. Tom Bushnell
    February 5th, 2008 @ 6:40 pm

    I’ve never heard of the decoy effect before. That’s an interesting insight into how the mind works. It could have some real implications in many area’s. One that comes to mind is in the area of marketing and selling. Giving people a percieved choice, while steering them in the direction the marketer or salesman wants them to go.

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » The Psychology of Choice: We can be Overwhelmed
    November 17th, 2009 @ 5:42 am

    […] The Psychology of Too Much Choice – The Decoy Effect – The Brain is Wired to Mull Over Decisions by curiouscat   Tags: Economics, […]

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