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The Psychology of

What happens in our brain when we make a decision?


Woman imagining paying for a product

You Make Decisions by Simulating the Outcome and Process

You imagine the outcome of a decision (benefits). Then you imagine the steps to implement (costs). Then you gauge which feeling is stronger.

A teeter-totter balancing a salad and cupcake

Every Behavior Needs Balance

Do something bad? You feel obligated do something good. Do something good? You feel entitled to do something bad.

Someone evaluating two similar blenders

We make decisions through relative comparisons

People evaluate options by comparing them to each other.

Decision Simulation

Two tip jars with money inside. One labelled "dogs", and the other is labelled "cats" to nudge people to choose a jar and express their preferences while tipping.

Gamify a Choice Task

Bar patrons gave more tips if they could “vote” with their money.

Interface asking users to choose a preferred shoe style

Activate a Which-to-Choose Mindset

A single choice primes people to make more choices.

Five green circles and one red triangle

Prime the Choice Through Visual Design

Graphic design can influence behavior through semantic priming.

Decision Scale

Women in a spa with thought bubble expressing guilt

Reduce the Guilt of Emotional Choices

Customers want to indulge, but they feel guilty. They need to justify this indulgence.

Product page of luxurious shoe with the words "5% donated to charity"

Offer Charity Incentives for Emotional Products

Donations reduce the guilt from consuming.

Main climbing staircase to reach cake

Extract Effort Before Emotional Choices

Feelings of work can help justify emotional purchases.

Product page of earings with a long list of attributes

Add More Attributes to Product Descriptions

More attributes help justify the purchase.

Line of cupcakes with the words "You deserve a treat"

Use Assertive Language for Emotional Products

Customers need this language to justify the indulgence.

Fancy car in dealership isolated by itself on a platform

Isolate Emotional Products

People feel guilty choosing emotional products when rational products are nearby.

Relative Comparisons

Assortment of different types of jewelry

Show a Full Assortment of Options

If you show items one at a time, shoppers will wait for a better option.

Yogurt with total fat of 1g (instead of 0g)

Raise Undesirable Attributes Above Zero

Raising a negative attribute slightly above zero provides a comparison point that makes it seem even smaller.

Row of vegetable trays being divided into more units

Divide Important Attributes Into More Items

You pull or push equal amounts from discrete categories.

Two vending machines, but people choosing machine with loudspeaker over it

Add Sensory Cues to Capture Attention

People are more likely to choose an option if they look at it longer.

Three pricing plans, but people choosing plan in middle

Place Your Target Option in the Center

Customers are more likely to choose an option from the center.

Line of candidates for job interview with first and last most likely to be chosen

Place Your Target Option First or Last

Place your option in the center when customers view all options. Place your item first or last when customers view options individually.

Table on a website comparing that business to a competitor

Align Features With Competitors

Customers will choose your brand if they believe that your product is similar (yet superior) to competing brands.