Part I. Understanding the Mind and Behavior Change

  • Doctors were 34% more likely to opt for a surgical treatment for cancer when they were presented with the surgery’s survival rate instead of the surgery’s death rate (note: they are exactly the same thing) ([ref128]).

  • Simply moving bottles of water (instead of soda bottles) so that they were at eye-level in the kitchens at Google, a place not known for its dullards, increased water uptake by a whopping 47% ([ref111]).

You’ve probably come across similarly surprising cases of how the mind works, either in your own life or in the news. The examples given here are from research studies in psychology and behavioral economics on how changing small aspects of our environment, like the framing of questions, can radically affect our behavior.

Part I focuses on how the mind makes decisions—and what that means for products that drive behavior change. In our daily lives, we’re often on autopilot, and we aren’t making conscious “decisions” at all. Even when we are making decisions, our minds sometimes work in ways that seem rather odd—at least until one understands a set of simple principles about how decision making works.

The goal for this part is to provide an overall understanding of how the mind decides, what’s required for people to take action, and how we can use this knowledge to think strategically about behavior change.

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