Creating Value Out Of Thin Air Through Psychology

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Have you ever made a decision that “felt right?”

Two weeks ago, I was reading articles by Derek Sivers, a famous entrepreneur/TED Speaker. I read – and loved – most of his work, and really wanted to get in touch with Derek for my blog. I decided to reach out by email to initiate contact: it just felt right. He kindly replied to my email, saying he is happy to set up an interview after Christmas!

So, I got to wonder: How can you make more decisions that “feel right” ?

Understanding how people make decision is huge, you get to understand yourself and others better, creating value for everyone! Our friend Heidi Grant Halvorson (great motivational psychologist, I talked about her work in another article) is interviewing top scientists about what she calls The Science of Thriving.

For our topic, Heidi interviewed her pal E. Tory Higgins, Professor of Psychology at Columbia. He worked on a something called “Regulatory Focus Theory”.

So, Mr Higgings identified two motivational states: Promotion vs Prevention

Promotion state: When you are in a situation where want to achieve more, go from 0 to 1. When you succeed: very happy, when you fail: sad. Really care about making progress, and on things getting even better. Don’t mind taking chances/making mistakes: All they care about is getting better, to the +1. To them, states 0 or -1 are about same.

Prevention state: When you want to be conservative, stay at 0, better than -1.  When you succeed: relaxed, relieved, calmer, when you fail: anxious, also use defensive mechanism (prepare for the worse, seeing all ways things could go wrong). Would emphasize security and safety.

Those two states can alter depending on situations, we all have both sides: it’s not a personality difference. We regulate ourselves in terms of ideas, and how we deal with the world. So, our entire emotional life ( based on our education and the way we do things) always involve one of those two systems.

Interestingly, patterns can change depending on environments (work/home), they also vary with age. Here are a three examples:

Example 1: Relationships

> For promotion focused, love is accomplishing things together and grow together, a dream that will get better and better.

> For prevention focused, love is about being together, safe and secure, fulfilling obligations and maintaining what you have, love is a safe heaven.

In early relationship, those visions can be in conflict. Always best to understand the other party’s picture, then: How do we go about reaching  goals together? It’s easier for couple to reach goals when balanced, both sides are required: eager and vigilant.

Example 2: Business

> Leadership: Business partners can also balance each others. Some job description have special needs, you might find more promotion focused Chief Marketing Officers and more prevention focused Chief Financial Officers.

> Sales: Priorities can differ. Promotion focused might chase new business (aka “Hunters”) whereas Prevention focused might prefer working on consumer retention (aka “Farmers”). Those two types can and will argue: Promoters can come across as too eager, Preventers as too vigilants .

Knowing yourself better helps creating a suitable environment: it’s a motivational fit.

Example 3: How to Get Customers to Value Your Product More (HBR article)

Fun fact: scientists ran experiments with consumers and recreated situations

> “When consumers were allowed to evaluate bike helmets in a way that created motivational fit, they were willing to pay about 20% more for one”.

> “Consumers offered to pay more than 40% more for the same reading booklight if the way they made their choice created motivational fit.”

> “Consumers who choose products while experiencing motivational fit are later significantly more satisfied with their selections. So you aren’t just tricking people into paying more — by taking into account your audience’s promotion or prevention focus, you are giving them the opportunity to experience of a genuinely better product. It just all depends on how you ask.”

Being aware of your focus in various situations…

… help you make more decisions that “feel good”! Also, if you want to set the conditions, and make it feel right for people. Doing things with fit gives you more happiness, impact and influence!

If you liked this, either “don’t miss out” or “gain knowledge” by joining the newsletter. Hehe.

What do you think? Also, sharing is caring!



2 thoughts on “Creating Value Out Of Thin Air Through Psychology

    Spencer Morrison said:
    November 18, 2013 at 14:14

    Interesting perspective on ‘promotion’ vs. ‘prevention’. Funny that this can also be traced by certain industry types as well. Sporting goods tailors to the ‘promotion’ state (i.e. Nike ‘Just Do It.’) while insurance fits with ‘preventive’ (i.e. Allstate – ‘Your In Good Hands.’).

    Why arts matters for everyone « That Curious Guy said:
    January 19, 2014 at 13:20

    […] love the feeling that you can keep picking up new things, improving at all times! Yes, I have an achiever mentality). Anyways, let’s look at Dave’s story to see what I’m talking […]

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