The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour

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August 11, 2017

The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour

In terms of the way we behave, are we consistently inconsistent? Or inconsistently consistent? Research in social psychology suggests both, and behavioural spillover is to blame.

Behavioural spillover is the phenomenon by which performing one goal-directed behaviour can increase - or decrease - the likelihood of performing another, similar behaviour.

I will use examples of empirical research to explain the mechanisms behind, and consequences of, both positive and negative spillover. I will then discuss how this research could have implications for organisations in terms of providing consistent user experiences in order to drive behavioural consistency.

Presented by Elise Margetts at UX Australia 2017

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uxaustralia

August 11, 2017
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  1. The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Dr. Elise

    Margetts email: elise@u1group.com twitter: @u1group UX Australia August 2017
  2. Page 2 U1 Group 1. What is behavioural spillover? 2.

    How does it work? 3. Why/how might we use this concept in UX? The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour This talk will cover… I’m not being inconsistent, it’s just behavioural spillover!”
  3. Page 3 U1 Group 〉 When users don’t act in

    line with their goals, they might not be acting irrational, it could be negative spillover. 〉 If you want to design for consistency, design for positive spillover. Let me explain… Irrational or “inconsistently consistent”? The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour
  4. Page 4 U1 Group The search for consistency in seemingly

    irrational behaviour First, some background as to how I got here…
  5. Page 5 U1 Group 〉What motivates people to be environmentally

    friendly? 〉What causes people to perform a lot of pro-environmental behaviours? 〉Evidence for similar behaviours performed in conjunction with one another, but mechanism unclear… My PhD research The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Captain Planet image copyright Turner/Time Warner My personal motivation:
  6. Page 6 U1 Group What influences behaviour? 〉We expect individuals

    to behave rationally 〉Assume actions are driven by a desired outcome/future state 〉Behaviour is goal driven The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Goal
  7. Page 7 U1 Group Typical goals we might have 〉Goals

    can be abstract or concrete 〉Goals can be seen as really important, or not so much The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Examples of abstract goals: Financial goal Health goal Learning/study goal Moral/prosocial goal Examples of concrete goals: Eat a snack goal Buy jeans online goal Cuddle Jones (my dog) goal
  8. Page 8 U1 Group The reality of goals 〉Goals can

    be abstract or concrete 〉Goals can be seen as really important, or not so much … Goals are sometimes difficult to identify! The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Images courtesy of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEESyCzoGTE
  9. Page 9 U1 Group Why might individuals act inconsistently with

    their goals? When can we expect consistency? Questions I wanted answers to The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour
  10. Page 10 U1 Group The search for consistency in seemingly

    irrational behaviour The answer…
  11. Page 11 U1 Group Behavioural spillover* When the performance of

    one behaviour influences the performance of another, related behaviour. These behaviours are related to the one goal. The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour * See Thᴓgersen (1999)
  12. Page 12 U1 Group 2 kinds of spillover The search

    for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour 1. Positive spillover 2. Negative spillover For example… Goal = keeping/getting in shape
  13. Page 13 U1 Group Positive spillover When performing one goal-related

    behaviour increases the likelihood that people will perform another behaviour related to the same goal. Goal = keeping/getting in shape: The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour
  14. Page 14 U1 Group Negative spillover The search for consistency

    in seemingly irrational behaviour When performing one goal-related behaviour decreases the likelihood of performing another behaviour that is related to that same goal. Goal = keeping/getting in shape: X
  15. Page 15 U1 Group The search for consistency in seemingly

    irrational behaviour what I proposed in my research… So how and why does spillover occur?
  16. Page 16 U1 Group The goal-behaviour link Superordinate goal Behaviour

    1 Behaviour 2 Behaviour 4 Behaviour 3 The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour See: Kruglanski, Shah, Fishbach, Friedman, Chung & Sleeth-Keppler (2002) Keeping/getting in shape Fitness Going for a run Doing weights at the gym Eating a healthy dinner Eating a healthy lunch Subgoal A Healthy Eating Subgoal B
  17. Page 17 U1 Group The goal-behaviour link The search for

    consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Superordinate goal Behaviour 1 Behaviour 2 Behaviour 4 Behaviour 3 Keeping/getting in shape Fitness Going for a run Doing weights at the gym Eating a healthy dinner Eating a healthy lunch Subgoal A Healthy Eating Subgoal B Positive spillover
  18. Page 18 U1 Group The goal-behaviour link The search for

    consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Superordinate goal Behaviour 1 Behaviour 2 Behaviour 4 Behaviour 3 Keeping/getting in shape Fitness Going for a run Doing weights at the gym Eating a healthy dinner Eating a healthy lunch Subgoal A Healthy Eating Subgoal B Positive spillover
  19. Page 19 U1 Group Positive spillover The search for consistency

    in seemingly irrational behaviour “Going for a run and healthy eating are complementary behaviours (I need to do both to achieve my goal)” Superordinate goal Keeping/getting in shape Fitness Subgoal A Healthy Eating Subgoal B
  20. Page 20 U1 Group The goal-behaviour link The search for

    consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Superordinate goal Behaviour 1 Behaviour 2 Behaviour 4 Behaviour 3 Keeping/getting in shape Fitness Going for a run Doing weights at the gym Eating a healthy dinner Eating a healthy lunch Subgoal A Healthy Eating Subgoal B Negative spillover
  21. Page 21 U1 Group Negative spillover The search for consistency

    in seemingly irrational behaviour Superordinate goal Keeping/getting in shape Fitness Subgoal A Subgoal B Healthy eating “I went for a run… therefore I deserve this cake” Licensing
  22. Page 22 U1 Group Negative spillover The search for consistency

    in seemingly irrational behaviour Superordinate goal Keeping/getting in shape Fitness Subgoal A Subgoal B Healthy eating “I went for a run… therefore I do enough to be keeping in shape (Yum! Lollies!)” Contribution ethic
  23. Page 23 U1 Group The search for consistency in seemingly

    irrational behaviour Why is this important to UX?
  24. Page 24 U1 Group Relevance to UX Using the concept

    of behavioural spillover, you may be able to: 〉Predict a user’s goal and encourage him/her to act consistently 〉Predict and explain when inconsistency occurs Let me show you… The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour
  25. Page 25 U1 Group Research example - negative spillover Mazar

    and Zhong (2010): 〉The goal: acting morally 〉The behaviour of purchasing environmentally friendly items at a grocery store 〉Led people to act selfishly and unethically (lying and stealing) The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Negative spillover
  26. Page 26 U1 Group Finkelstein and Fishbach (2010): 〉The goal:

    being healthy 〉Ate ‘healthy food’ 〉Ate more food later on (compared to those that ate the same food that was framed as tasty AND compared to those who had not eaten) Research example - negative spillover The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Eating “healthy” Negative spillover
  27. Page 27 U1 Group Thᴓgersen and Noblet (2012): 〉The goal:

    being environmentally friendly 〉Those that purchased environmentally friendly items 〉Were more likely to accept a proposed wind power farm. Research example - positive spillover The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Positive spillover
  28. Page 28 U1 Group Margetts and Kashima (2015): 〉The goal:

    being environmentally friendly 〉Spending money in order to be environmentally friendly (via buying environmentally friendly groceries) 〉More likely to give money to environmental charities (but not spend time – perceived behavioural similarity = important) Research example - positive spillover The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Positive spillover
  29. Page 29 U1 Group Spillover over time The search for

    consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Goal
  30. Page 30 U1 Group Spillover over time 〉 Financial goal

    〉 Health goal 〉 Learning goal 〉 Moral goal The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Goal
  31. Page 31 U1 Group Spillover over time The search for

    consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Goal Time 〉 Financial goal 〉 Health goal 〉 Learning goal 〉 Moral goal
  32. Page 32 U1 Group Spillover over time The search for

    consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Goal Inconsistent behaviours Consistent behaviours 〉 Financial goal 〉 Health goal 〉 Learning goal 〉 Moral goal Time
  33. Page 33 U1 Group Spillover over time The search for

    consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Run Diet Weights McDonalds Positive spillover Negative spillover Goal 〉 Financial goal 〉 Health goal 〉 Learning goal 〉 Moral goal Time Inconsistent behaviours Consistent behaviours
  34. Page 34 U1 Group When to expect… Negative spillover (inconsistency)

    No/weak connection from both behaviours to superordinate goal (it is not important and/or not top of mind) 〉Behaviours seen as substitutes 〉Contribution ethic 〉Licensing The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour
  35. Page 35 U1 Group Afterpay positioning 〉Encourages negative spillover The

    search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Acknowledges goal (financial) but then uses language to promote licensing e.g., ‘treating yourself’, ‘indulge now’
  36. Page 36 U1 Group Positive spillover (consistency) Strong connection between

    behaviours to superordinate goal (it is important and/or top of mind) 〉Behaviours seen as complementary to the goal achievement Perceived behavioural similarity 〉Behaviours seen as similar to one another 〉Perceived behavioural similarity via resource similarity When to expect… The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour
  37. Page 37 U1 Group My Fitness Pal 〉Encourages positive spillover

    The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour Subgoals (‘exercise’, ‘food’ etc.) clearly linked to superordinate goal (‘my fitness’), and framed as complementary
  38. Page 38 U1 Group The search for consistency in seemingly

    irrational behaviour So what can you take away?
  39. Page 39 U1 Group Takeaway lesson 1 When users don’t

    act in line with their goals, when they are inconsistent, irrationality isn’t always to blame… … it could be negative spillover instead! The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour
  40. Page 40 U1 Group Takeaway lesson 2 If you want

    to design for consistency, design for positive spillover: 〉 Ensure the user is reminded of their goal at the point of their second (or subsequent) action 〉 Frame behaviours as complementary 〉 Consider ways to make the behaviours seem similar to one another The search for consistency in seemingly irrational behaviour
  41. Thank you! Dr. Elise Margetts, UX Consultant email: elise@u1group.com twitter:

    @u1group U1 Group Melbourne 119 Ferrars St, South Melbourne VIC 3205 (03) 9684 3470 U1 Group Sydney 1/26-28 Wentworth Ave, Surry Hills NSW 2010 (02) 9261 4624