Autonomy BiasOpen Access

Autonomy Bias

We have a deep-seated need to control our situations

Feeling power and choice over our future gives us certainty, motivation and lower stress. Autonomy is vital for successful behavior change.

Botti & McGill (2011). The locus of choice: Personal causality and satisfaction with hedonic and utilitarian decisions. Journal of Consumer Research.

The study

Setup

88 students were told about an exercise training camp and split into 2 groups: either having a choice about  the four fitness programs on offer or having one randomly assigned. They were then asked to rate their anticipated satisfaction of the program out of 9.

Results

Those given some autonomy reported higher levels of anticipated satisfaction than those who weren’t.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Choice = autonomy = certainty.  For instance, giving people a choice to still use the old version of your software platform for a given timeframe will reduce anxiety and uncertainty.

Takeaway image

Product type matters. People desire autonomy for pleasure purchases (i.e. vacations) more than for practical ones (i.e. business trips). Place more  focus on the former in order to maximise feelings of control and consumer satisfaction (Botti & McGill, 2011).

Takeaway image

Change behavior with the ‘4As’. Feeling that any change originated from within is vital. Ask about the behavior, advise them impartially of the facts and of better routes, but that they must make their own choice. If keen to change, assist them to make a commitment to do so by a given date, and arrange a follow-up to support this behavior change.

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
Autonomy Bias

Autonomy Bias

We have a deep-seated need to control our situations

Feeling power and choice over our future gives us certainty, motivation and lower stress. Autonomy is vital for successful behavior change.

The study

Setup

88 students were told about an exercise training camp and split into 2 groups: either having a choice about  the four fitness programs on offer or having one randomly assigned. They were then asked to rate their anticipated satisfaction of the program out of 9.

Results

Those given some autonomy reported higher levels of anticipated satisfaction than those who weren’t.

study graph
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In detail

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Open access, foundational Nuggets

Scarcity

Scarcity

We value things more when they’re in limited supply

Social Proof

Social Proof

We copy the behaviors of others, especially in unfamiliar situations

Prospect Theory

Prospect Theory

A loss hurts more than an equal gain feels good

Reciprocity

Reciprocity

We’re hardwired to return kindness received

Framing

Framing

We make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented

Loss Aversion

Loss Aversion

We feel more negative when losing something than positive when we gain it

Default Effect

Default Effect

We tend to accept the option pre-chosen for us

Anchoring

Anchoring

What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

Fast & Slow Thinking

Fast & Slow Thinking

We make knee-jerk spontaneous decisions that can cause regretful damage

Dynamic Norms

Dynamic Norms

We’re more likely to change if we can see a new behavior developing

Salience

Salience

Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

Connected to

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Limited Choice
We’re more likely to decide when the options are sensibly restricted

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