Present Bias

What we want now is often the opposite of what we aspire to in the future

When we decide what to buy or how to spend our time, we make short-term decisions that prevent us from becoming who we desire to be.

Van Epps et al., (2016). Advance Ordering for Healthier Eating? Field Experiments on the Relationship Between the Meal Order–Consumption Time Delay and Meal Content. Journal of Marketing Research.

The study

Setup

195 students were asked to fill out a lunch order survey in return for a free lunch. They were split into two groups and  asked either a few hours prior to or just before lunchtime. 

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Results

Those asked with the delay made food choices 11% lower in calories than those just before lunch. 

np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

Key Takeaways

Adapt with time-to-delivery.

Online grocers could change what’s shown to the user based on how many days out their delivery slot is, showing more aspirational goods in the week prior and impulsive goods the day before. 

Build around customers’ goals.

Have them make a preference on your site for their future self i.e. that they want to lose weight or save more money this year. Then, have this preference dictate what products are shown to them online, along with a subtle reminder that you’re helping with their bigger goals.

Encourage “future lock-ins.”

Banks could improve consumer savings by allowing pre-registration for a future savings account. Consider locking in other types of ‘should’ decisions that will benefit the consumer’s future well-being, as well as reducing your costs through better demand forecasting.

Present Bias

What we want now is often the opposite of what we aspire to in the future

When we decide what to buy or how to spend our time, we make short-term decisions that prevent us from becoming who we desire to be.

Van Epps et al., (2016). Advance Ordering for Healthier Eating? Field Experiments on the Relationship Between the Meal Order–Consumption Time Delay and Meal Content. Journal of Marketing Research.

The study

Setup

195 students were asked to fill out a lunch order survey in return for a free lunch. They were split into two groups and  asked either a few hours prior to or just before lunchtime. 

Results

Those asked with the delay made food choices 11% lower in calories than those just before lunch. 

Key Takeaways

Adapt with time-to-delivery.

Online grocers could change what’s shown to the user based on how many days out their delivery slot is, showing more aspirational goods in the week prior and impulsive goods the day before. 

Build around customers’ goals.

Have them make a preference on your site for their future self i.e. that they want to lose weight or save more money this year. Then, have this preference dictate what products are shown to them online, along with a subtle reminder that you’re helping with their bigger goals.

Encourage “future lock-ins.”

Banks could improve consumer savings by allowing pre-registration for a future savings account. Consider locking in other types of ‘should’ decisions that will benefit the consumer’s future well-being, as well as reducing your costs through better demand forecasting.

Present Bias

What we want now is often the opposite of what we aspire to in the future

When we decide what to buy or how to spend our time, we make short-term decisions that prevent us from becoming who we desire to be.

The study

Setup

195 students were asked to fill out a lunch order survey in return for a free lunch. They were split into two groups and  asked either a few hours prior to or just before lunchtime. 

Results

Those asked with the delay made food choices 11% lower in calories than those just before lunch. 

np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

Pairings

Product Development

Design for immediate needs

We're hardwired to overvalue things we can get right now, over those that are delayed.

Payment provider Stripe have designed for this with Instant Payouts - allowing customers to get immediate access to their cash in 30 minutes (even at weekends) instead of waiting 2-3 business days. A 1% fee is charged for the convenience.

Where can you design for immediacy in a way that people will provide unique value? What features do you already have that could be particularly time-sensitive?

Experience

Provide aspirational, future-focused reminders to overcome short-termism

Our disposition to focus on the near term can cause us all sorts of problems: over-spending because we feel low, making poor diet decisions because we're tired, not going for that run today because it might rain...

Banks, supermarkets, health apps, you can all help here. Consider including reference somewhere in your digital experiences to our own aspirational goals.

For instance, UK supermarket Waitrose might recommend us healthy options if it knows a little of our goals. The shopping experience could change, surfacing our goals at key decision points, or offering a basket-specific 'healthier substitutes' page prior to checkout with accompanying copy like "Be more you with the following healthy substitutes".

Importantly, such goals should be explicitly chosen by the user. But, once defined, timely nudges to remind and steer better behaviour become possible.

What are users' high level goals in your product?

In what situations are users most likely to deviate away from them?

Where therefore can you help them make better decisions by gently reminding them of their own future aspirations?

They will thank you for doing so.

Connected to

Running workshops?

Present Bias

is included in Box One of our physical workshop tool.
is included in Box Two of our physical workshop tool.
Box Two