A more ruthless alarm clock…

A) SnūzNLūz – the alarm clock that donates any amount you designate to a charity you despise if you don’t wake up.

B) The alarm clock that shreds any amount of money you designate right before your eyes if you don’t wake up. (ps. It’s not clear if this alarm clock is real.)

If you answered B), the Nudge blog thinks there’s something odd going on. In fact, it seems like a bonafide behavioral puzzle. You’re losing the money in either case. But in only one is that money going to someone or something you despise. If A) is more ruthless, it’s clearly the vividness of the shredding. But what makes that so painful?

Consider this thought experiment. If you could design a magic alarm clock that would cause a $20 bill to disappear from your wallet and reappear in the bank account of that co-worker you can’t stand every time you hit snooze, and one that would cause a $20 bill to disappear from your wallet zip off somewhere into the ether, here’s guessing that, relatively speaking, the more ruthless clock would be A).

Hat tip: David Glover

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  • Andy Andy

    I don’t see why this is either odd or a bonafide behavioural puzzle.

    For most of the population, donating to charity has *some* value to them. That’s why many donate to charity already.

    When comparing this value, to the value of literally destroying a bill or giving it to someone or something you don’t like/support it should be obvious why people don’t want to shred their money.

    • http://www.nudges.org/ Nudge blog

      But this is a charity you don’t like. In fact, don’t call it a charity. Just call it someone or something that does stuff you despise. Where’s the “value”? Might it even be negative?

      • http://civiloscar.myopenid.com/ Oxz

        The problem: with this method  one can easily turn it off and go back to bed. The fix: keep the alarm clock at the office or in a locker at your gym.
        Also, alternatives to a bad charity are political parties or your girlfriend’s ex. :)

      • Steph

        Typo in “despise”… I was confused initially.

        • Andy Andy

          Ah ha! That clarifies. I re-cast the sentence to say, “Charity you specify”

      • Andy Andy

        The typo threw me for a loop – yes, I think there would be a negative value.

        Obviously, it depends on how much you dislike the charity/cause. I think most people could find a cause for which they’d rather see their money burn, than support.

        I think many people could just pick from one of: Democrats, Republicans, ACLU, NRA.

  • Ace Rock

    This makes sense to me. Visceral matters. Think of how much easier it is to spend money with a debit card than with cash. Or think of the Trolley thought experiments. This is right in line with those examples.

  • Guest

    Consider replacing the charity with a former spouse or significant other. That will certainly get a rise out of many people.

  • Jack Vickeridge

    I think the problem is that when you say “a charity you despise” most people imagine a charity they personally dislike, but they admit does SOME good, or at least is neutral and has some good intentions, even if they’re really annoying. And from that basis it’s less ruthless, since it’s annoying, but not evil. If it donated to a charity which you think actively causes human misery, suffering and death, then that would be much more ruthless — indeed, I might well not choose to use the alarm clock in that case. (People’s suggestions of someone you personally despise but isn’t inherently evil would be a reasonable compromise.)

    Personally, I think I’d rather make a small donation when I _did_ stop the alarm, and rely on the shame of not donating to a good charity, rather than the shame of actively donating to a bad one, but I don’t know if that’s actually a good idea.

  • http://www.flrs.co.uk/ non geographic numbers

    With the latter, the sound will go off again in a set amount of time, usually five or ten minutes. The sleep feature, on the other hand, allows you to listen to music while you go to sleep without leaving the radio running all night.

  • http://www.metalbookends.co.uk/ metal bookends

    Some of these alarms will allow you to adjust brightness. A snooze button is important too and certainly, if you sleep with someone else, having a dual alarm allows you to set a wake up time that suits both individuals.