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From Newsweek’s “The Science of Decision Making.”

The brain is wired to notice change over stasis. An arriving email that pops to the top of your BlackBerry qualifies as a change; so does a new Facebook post. We are conditioned to give greater weight in our decision-making machinery to what is latest, not what is more important or more interesting. “There is a powerful ‘recency’ effect in decision making,” says behavioral economist George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University. “We pay a lot of attention to the most recent information, discounting what came earlier.” Getting 30 texts per hour up to the moment when you make a decision means that most of them make all the impression of a feather on a brick wall, whereas Nos. 29 and 30 assume outsize importance, regardless of their validity. “We’re fooled by immediacy and quantity and think it’s quality,” says Eric Kessler, a management expert at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business. “What starts driving decisions is the urgent rather than the important.”


The “Remember These Come from Trees” stickers have become a common sight on paper towel dispensers in bathrooms around the U.S. Now a U.K. company called Hu2 has come up with a series of Eco Reminder stickers for light switches designed to make the connection between energy and the environment more concrete. They aren’t as cheap as the “These Come from Trees” stickers, but the designs have a finer aesthetic element to them – although, in the end, that doesn’t necessarily translate into more behavioral change.

Hat tip: Marian Leo

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