The other day, I heard an interviewer challenging Ed Milliband’s ‘loyalty’ to his brother – Surely Ed, the younger brother should be supporting David rather than fighting against him?
On the surface I can see that. But in truth I think they are playing a much deeper, cleverer game. Let me take you for a quick dive into Behavioural Economics (i.e. the psychology of buying decisions). In Dan Ariely’s book, ‘Predicatably Irrational’ (as well as in ‘Nudge’ and ‘Blink’), he talks about the important notion of ‘relativity’ (or framing/contexting). Ariley referenced one experiment he conducted with his MIT Sloan students. They were given the chance to subscribe to the Economist. When shown two options: $59 for internet only or $125 for internet and print, 68% chose the internet only option and 32% the print and internet option. Pretty much what you’d expect. However, when they introduced a third option, it all changed. This time they could pay $59 for internet only or $125 for print ONLY or for the same price of $125 get internet and print. Now as you’d expect, no-one went for the $125 print ONLY option – why would you when they is more on offer for the same price? But this is where it gets interesting. Now, with no-one voting for the ‘drone’ option, you would expect the scores to be the same – ie 68% chosing the internet only option. But by introducing the other option, 84% now chose the $125 print and internet option – ie by introducing another option (that no-one voted for) influenced the buying behaviour!! Our brains naturally search for similarities and differences and then create a comparison to help make judgements. So by introducing an alternate that is similar but slightly ‘less good’, it automatically shifts the attention/focus there and away from the other options.
So could it just be, that by having his brother also run, it means it creates the same effects? We shall soon see!