Are they taking advantage of your irrationality? - Neuromarketing and biases

heuristics and cognitive biases, which speed up our decision making. Nerea V. already told us in her last blog entry how they affect us on a psychological level in our daily lives, and I am here to give you some examples of how the greats of the marketing apply these psychological biases in their strategies. This is because renowned authors of behavioral economics such as Daniel Kahneman and Dan Ariely have already said so:

"We are not only irrational, but predictably irrational."

Want to know if you also unconsciously fall into these biases? Pick one, and read on!

  1. Dunning Kruger effect
  2. Illusion of control _ Yes, but no
  3. Dragnet effect and the group mentality
  4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Decoy Effect
  5. Goggle effect (not Google)
  6. Lake Wobegon effect, or optimistic bias
  7. Environmental bias and color psychology

01 - Dunning Kruger Effect: The ultracrepidian race

Are you familiar with the saying "intelligent people are full of doubts while ignorant people are sure of everything"? Surely you know someone who "knows everything" or who has told you "get out of my way, you don't know" (and he didn't know either). This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect, and can be summarized in the following sentence:

The less we know, the more we think we know

But you don't have to be a complete ultra-credidian to fall into the traps of this bias. You can easily find examples of how video games and mobile apps appeal to this bias to get you to click and download their app. Take a close look at the 30 seconds of video we get embedded in social networks and tell me, honestly, do you think you would get a better score?

02 - Illusion of control

We humans have an irrevocable tendency to think that we can control or at least influence outcomes. Even though clearly our "influence" and the outcome we hope to achieve have absolutely, remotely no relationship. And I'll prove it to you.Have you ever taken a holy card of the Virgin Mary to bring you luck to an exam or blown the dice to get a 5 playing Parcheesi?
This bias is the origin of many superstitions, and the fact is that we all seek that feeling of control. Precisely for this reason, websites that allow us to believe that we have some kind of control over our purchases, get a higher number of sales. Isn't one of Amazon's strong points the logistics system?

  • Premium version in case you want to receive your order earlier
  • Order tracking
  • Order return policy

They all help you decide when and how your order arrives, where it is at all times and, if you don't like it, you are guaranteed to return it without any problem. In other words, you think you have control over it.

03 - Dragging effect: From animal gregariousness to the Reviews

"We assume that something is good or bad based on the previous behavior of others."

In other words, just like the goslings of the Lorenz experimentWe are gregarious beings and live in society, and this society clearly conditions our behavior.
This bias is directly related to group membership and its influence on the fashionsOr why do you think that the system works so well? product ratings at e-commerces or the advertising of influencers? Because we prefer not to take risks and stick to what has been proven before, which is that "the probability of a person adopting a belief or behavior is directly proportional to how many others already have it".
Therefore, a search result with star ratings from previous customers gives us more confidence than one that does not satisfy any of our customers. rich snippet extra.

04 - Decoy Effect: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Perhaps one of the best known techniques in neuromarketing is the so-called decoy effect (Decoy EffectThe clearest example is given by Dan Ariely in The traps of desirewhere he explains the reasoning that we all follow without exception. Suppose you are interested in subscribing to The Economist news, and you have the following three options:

  1. $59 - Subscription online
  2. $125 - Printed subscription
  3. $125 - Subscription online + print
Decoy effect El País

You read that right. And yes, we've all been thinking the same thingWho would want option 2 if for the same price I have option 3, which is much better? Option 2 in this case, folks, is the ugly one.
Probably, if the choice were limited to options 1 and 3, we would have more doubts, but by including option 2 in the equation, automatically, option 3 seems much more attractive.
Today, this technique is still used in exactly the same way, in offers and promotions or even in the case of subscriptions, such as the current one for El País:

[totalpoll id="23243″]

05 - The Goggle Effect: or why your memory betrays you

Let's see, how many phone numbers are you able to remember without looking at your phone book? A lot less than a few years ago, right? Nowadays, the more accessible certain information can be, the less trouble we take in remembering it. This memory bias is what is known as the Goggle Effect, and yes, indeed, it also affects behavior. onlineJust as you can't remember your father's cell phone, you won't be able to remember the product you liked so much just 5 minutes ago.
But don't worry. For every problem, there's a solution, and that's how the techniques of email marketingthat kindly remind you that you have left a cart with 3 products forgotten, or Prestashop modules that remind you throughout the navigation which are the last products you have seen.
It's so easy to go off the deep end and lose track of what you were really interested in buying!

06 - Lake Wobegon effect or optimistic bias.


It's June. Finally we can enjoy a refreshing drink on a terrace in the warmth of the sun again. Think for a moment about the important decision: What will be your first drink of the de-escalation: Pepsi or Coca Cola? Yes, even in terracing, biases play a role. This one, in particular, has a lot to do with expectations, those qualities that we attribute to a product or person because they are that product or person, and that also bias our decisions.


You may be familiar with "The Pepsi Challenge.". For the experiment, Pepsi gave a choice between two cola samples to choose the one they liked best. The results of their experiment showed a majority for Pepsi. In parallel, Coca Cola conducted the same experiment. Only, in their case, the majority of respondents preferred Coca Cola. How could it be that the same experiment gave opposite results? The key to the results were the expectations about the brand.
While Pepsi did not show the product packaging in its experiment, making it totally blind, Coca Cola allowed the user to see the packaging of the soft drink to be tested at all times. Clearly, brand image exerted a vital influence on the results obtained.
So, if you invest in advertising, you know: do not neglect the branding nor the brand image. 😉

07 - Environmental Bias: The psychology of color also has an influence

I am going to illustrate this last bias with something as everyday as the psychology of color. Surely you have also noticed that the star color in any hospital or residence is a cold color, ranging from green to blue and brings serenity; or that many companies of organic products bet on green in their brand image, which is a symbol of ecology and environmental concern.
Each color represents certain values, and although its decorative use is not fortuitous, it is much less so. when it comes to designing a website or building a brand image. Every detail is carefully measured, and if you don't believe me, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Does your perception change if we reverse the corporate colors of Mercadona and Eroski?
Let us know if you know of any other examples of how biases influence and condition our behavior.We want to know your opinion. ;)]]>

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