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Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy by Phil Barden

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4

Optimizing the Path to Purchase

The Decision Interface Makes the Difference

We’ll take the next step in our journey through the autopilot. The commonly held view in marketing is that, in order to change behaviour, it’s first necessary to change attitudes. This chapter challenges that view and shows the profound influence that the ‘decision interface’ has on behaviour. We will identify key implicit decision rules and discover how to employ them to best effect in marketing.

Decision interfaces influence purchase decisions: a visit to the canteen

Imagine we are the principal of a college and are concerned about the health of our students. We want to improve their eating habits and reduce their calorie intake. What would be the best way to achieve this? We might come up with the idea of an internal ‘advertising’ campaign to inform the students about the benefits of healthy food, and to teach them more about the negatives of eating too many calories. Many studies in the area of health psychology suggest that such campaigns might indeed change attitudes towards high-calorie food, and also help to raise people’s intention to eat more healthily, but these same studies also suggest that the resultant impact on actual behaviour is negligible.

We have all probably experienced this for ourselves. If we did act on our intentions then far fewer of us would smoke, and a BMI of above 25 would be rare. So, as principal, our next step might be to take more direct and severe actions in the student ...

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