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Another way to support this simplification process in product comparisons is to present important information side-by-side rather than only through each individual product page. Comparison tables that highlight differences work well, as long as consistent levels of detail are included for all items.

Psychology of winning and losing in sports - Dr. Michelle Cleere

One of the most common activities on the web involves users comparing and choosing between multiple products or services, so adequately supporting this task is key. Most people will behave so that they minimize losses because losses loom larger than gains, even though the probability of those losses is tiny. For example, insurance websites frequently display a long list of unlikely, yet costly outcomes that we may encounter should we not buy insurance.

This list primes us toward avoiding these large losses and makes us forget about the small, but regular payment that we would make indefinitely for ensuring insurance coverage. For products or services that do not inherently guard against large losses, we can convince users to take certain actions by understanding what their inhibitions may be. For example, prospective users may be unwilling to begin an application process online because they fear it would take too much time, or require information not readily available.

If a website is aware of this perception, it can attempt to modify it, for instance, by stating how long the application takes on average, and what pieces of information would be needed to complete it. We react more strongly to moments of loss — in the form of frustration or confusion that may occur during an interaction with a website or an app. When everything works as expected, people consider that the norm. But, once anything goes slightly wrong, people balk and remember those bad experiences for much longer. This is why it is so important to test everything and work hard to fix any of these small stumbling blocks.

We are designing for users who are hard to please.

Psychology of Winning

Prospect theory explains several biases that people rely on when making decisions. Understanding these biases can help persuade people to take action. For more about influencing principles and persuasion techniques for the web, consider our full-day Persuasive Web Design training course. Kahneman, D. Econometrica , 47 2 , Skip to Main Content.

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Purchasing insurance plans is an excellent example of the prospect theory at work. When dealing with gains, people are risk averse and will choose the sure gain denoted by the red line over a riskier prospect, even though with the risk there is a possibility of gaining a larger reward. Note also that the overall expected value or outcome of each choice is equal. Losses are treated in the opposite manner as gains. When aiming to avoid a loss, people become risk seeking and take the gamble over a sure loss in the hope of paying nothing. Again, both options have equal expected values.

Prospect theory explains the biases that people use when they make such decisions: Certainty Isolation effect Loss aversion We discuss each of these biases in detail below. Certainty People tend to overweigh options that are certain, and are risk averse for gains. The plea to write a review for a recent purchase from Aveda would be much stronger if a sure gain was highlighted instead of the sweepstake. The subject line for the email actually did mention a receiving a free sample with the next purchase in exchange for the review, but it was not stated in the main content of the email.

Hence, I did not take the time to write the review.

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When presented with each decision, people make the opposite choice based on whether the options are framed as a gain or a loss. In Scenario 1, most choose option B over A, but in Scenario 2 the majority choose option C over D to try to avoid the loss.

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  6. In these scenarios, people focus on only the choice between the 2 options, and overlook the initial gift amount because it is a shared factor across the two choices. However, when taking this initial gift difference into account, it can be seen that option A is equal to option C, and option B is equal to option D — only the framing has changed!

    Creating Motivational Fit

    Loss Aversion Most people will behave so that they minimize losses because losses loom larger than gains, even though the probability of those losses is tiny. Insurance companies often capitalize on our overweighing of unlikely how many cats get brain cancer? What factors strengthen—or undermine—your motivation? Personality matters.

    Fortunately, there is a way of grouping people into types on the basis of a personality attribute that does predict performance: promotion focus or prevention focus. Although these types are well known among academic psychologists and marketing and management researchers, word of them has not yet filtered down to the people who we believe could benefit most: managers keen to be more effective in their jobs and to help others reach their full potential as well.

    Promotion-focused people see their goals as creating a path to gain or advancement and concentrate on the rewards that will accrue when they achieve them. They are eager and they play to win. Unfortunately, all that chance taking, speedy working, and positive thinking makes these individuals more prone to error, less likely to think things through, and usually unprepared with a plan B if things go wrong. The promotion-focused are engaged by inspirational role models, the prevention-focused by cautionary tales. Prevention-focused people, in contrast, see their goals as responsibilities, and they concentrate on staying safe.

    They are vigilant and play to not lose, to hang on to what they have, to maintain the status quo. They are often more risk-averse, but their work is also more thorough, accurate, and carefully considered. To succeed, they work slowly and meticulously. While the promotion-minded generate lots of ideas, good and bad, it often takes someone prevention-minded to tell the difference between the two. Although everyone is concerned at various times with both promotion and prevention, most of us have a dominant motivational focus.

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    It determines our strengths and weaknesses, both personally and professionally. Most readers will be able to identify their dominant focus immediately. Simply identifying your own type should help you embrace your strengths as well as recognize and compensate for your weaknesses.

    To some extent people do this intuitively. These occupations require knowledge of rules and regulations, careful execution, and a propensity for thoroughness—they are jobs in which attention to detail is what really pays off. Your focus might also steer you toward a particular industry.

    Prevention-focused leaders are most effective in more stable industries, where avoiding catastrophic error is often the key to success. Motivational fit enhances and sustains both the eagerness of the promotion-minded and the vigilance of the prevention-minded, making work seem more valuable and thus boosting both performance and enjoyment. Storytelling has long been touted as a motivational tool. But different types of people need varying kinds of stories. Studies show that the promotion-focused are more engaged when they hear about an inspirational role model, such as a particularly high-performing salesperson or a uniquely effective team leader.

    As an individual, you naturally pay attention to the kind of story that resonates most with you. But as a colleague or a boss, you should think about whether the stories you share with others are motivational for them.

    According to recent research, promotion-minded employees thrive under transformational leaders, who support creative solutions, have a long-term vision, and look for ways to shake things up. The prevention-focused are at their best under transactional leaders, who emphasize rules and standards, protect the status quo, tend toward micromanagement, discourage errors, and focus on effectively reaching more-immediate goals. When people find themselves working for a leader who fits, they say that they value their work significantly more and are less likely to want to leave the organization.

    When employees and bosses are mismatched, enjoyment of and commitment to work declines. If no one works to counteract the tension, serious problems can arise. Over the past 20 years we have done research with leaders in more than 12, private, public, military, and government organizations across 21 countries. When Jane Promotion manages Joe Prevention, she rarely sees him as a threat. But she may overlook and underutilize his strengths and fail to encourage him with defined tasks and clear objectives. When both individuals are subordinate, their contrasting approaches lead to tension.

    Joe Prevention sees Jane Promotion as a threat, while Jane gets frustrated by the barriers Joe creates and may openly challenge him. When Joe Prevention and Jane Promotion are both bosses, a power struggle may develop. Even when Joe Prevention manages Jane Promotion, he may feel threatened by her and seek to limit her activity and opportunities as a result.

    She will resent the micromanagement and may eventually leave. Nada K. Sometimes even minor tweaks in how you think about a goal or the language you use to describe it can make a difference. One of our favorite studies on this subject comes from Germany. Your aspiration is to score at least three times.