Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some notes on Sway by the bros. Brafman

Recently, at a webinar, Francois Gossieaux recommended the book Sway by Ori & Rom Brafman. I decided to take the rest of the afternoon off and see if the Hayward Public Library had a copy. They did and it was such a slim book and a quick read that, well, here we are.

As I read the first few chapters, the authors introduced terms such as "value attribution" and "diagnosis bias". The descriptions sounded familiar as Fundamental Attribution Error and Confirmation Bias, so I googled the terms and, lo, found very little in the way of formal definition of their terms. While I think the concepts in the book are very interesting, I admit I am a bit annoyed at dressing up known or familiar concepts in new terms without acknowledging or improving upon the terms or concepts.

So here's a very short summary of the concepts in the book with more common terms and links where I could find them.

Chapt 1 - aversion to loss - Sunk Costs Fallacy

Chapt 2 - commitment (even in the face of mounting loss) - Escalation of Commitment

Chapt 3 - value attribution - Fundamental Attribution Error

Chapt 4 - diagnosis bias - Confirmation Bias

Chapt 5 - chameleon effect - Pygmalion Effect & Golem Effect

Chapt 6 - process justice - Perceptions of fairness and The Ultimatum Game

Chapt 7 - the paradox of rewards - neuroscience of personal pleasure (Brian Knutson) and altruism (Dharol Tankersley). prospect of reward is stronger pleasure center stimulant than receiving the reward.

Chapt 8 - group conformity and dissenters - Asch conformity experiments

Epilogue - advice on avoiding each of the above "sway" forces. However, advice on avoiding being swayed by rewards was not included. I would have liked to see much more on this with the advice backed by research.

I'm glad I read Sway, it's a bit like a crib sheet of behavioral psychology and economics, so it works as an introduction, but there are deeper resources out there and I'm looking forward to digging into them.