Marketing decision-making is a science for some, a gut reaction for others. And the latter group is concerning, because people are easily misled when presented with things they want to believe.
Writing in his book, “Thinking Fast and Slow,” Daniel Kahneman says:
“The psychologist Paul Slovic has proposed an affect heuristic in which people let their likes and dislikes determine their beliefs about the world … His work offers a picture of Mr. and Ms. Citizen that is far from flattering: guided by emotion rather than by reason, easily swayed by trivial details, and inadequately sensitive to differences between low and negligibly low probabilities.”
Sounds like some marketing decision-making.
Essentially, people believe what they want to believe. I was amused when someone shared this tidbit about the mainstream media in my Facebook News Feed. Having done a good amount of market research, I’ve found that it’s unusual for more than 90% of people to agree on anything. Taking the bait, I replied that you might get more than 90% of people to agree that they love their mother (unless you pulled your research sample from people who were abused and neglected as children). To get this result about the mainstream media, the research sample must have been pulled from Sean Hannity’s Twitter followers, if there was a study at all.
Marketers and researchers can easily succumb to the affect heuristic. We have to be cautious about letting personal beliefs, opinions, and biases guide decisions and conclusions. We may desperately want to believe certain things about our target audience because that’s what we feel. Of course, our feelings might not be supported by the numbers.
The Mad World News post about mainstream media invited readers to share if they were one of those who mistrusted the mainstream media. The post got 41,405 shares — from only 2% of the Mad World News 1.8 million followers. Granted, not everyone who agrees with the post is going to share it. But to validate the claim, 47 times as many Mad World News followers would have to share it. When challenged, one sharer doubled down on his belief.
Beware the affect heuristic.