I’ve been reading Influence by Robert Cialdini and it is a very illuminating book. I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it before!
One of the first concepts he introduces is how our brains make quick decisions — shortcuts, really — and these can be used against us without us truly realizing or understanding.
Occasionally the behaviour of creatures can look ridiculously easy. Look at the mother turkey, which even assaults them or usually cares greatly for its chicks but left if they don’t emit their distinguishing “cheep-cheep” sound. Even as little as a replica of the turkey’s arch-nemesis, the polecat, will arouse tender attention in the mother turkey provided that it “cheeps” loud. The sound is an easy cause: a shortcut that faithfully identify its chicks allows the turkey to rapidly and, generally.
In the event of the replica polecat, the mother turkey’s shortcut appears rather silly, but we too use mental shortcuts that are similar. We just must, as the planet is a complicated area where it’s not possible for people to ponder the information on each decision we make. Therefore, we use shortcuts that are fast, and they serve us.
As scientists can deceive a turkey into mothering a polecat that was filled, so called compliance professionals, like advertisers, con artists, salesmen etc, can mislead us into using our shortcuts against our personal interests. They often do that to get us to comply with their demands, for instance, to purchase a product.
Usually abused is the “cost suggests quality”-shortcut: people generally suppose items that are expensive are of higher quality than ones that are inexpensive. Frequently this shortcut is somewhat accurate, however a salesman that is wily might put it to use against us. As an example, memorabilia stores frequently sell stone that are unpopular by increasing rather than lowering their costs.
We have to recognize and protect ourselves against the manipulators who deceive us into wrong using those shortcuts, lest we wind up looking as silly as the poor mom turkey because dealing with all the complexities of life means needing to rely on shortcuts.