Present BiasOpen Access

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.

Study graph

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. 

Takeaway image

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.

Takeaway image

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.

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
Present Bias

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.

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

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We tend to accept the option pre-chosen for us

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What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

Fast & Slow Thinking

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

Salience

Salience

Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

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Risk Aversion
We don’t like uncertainty and generally stick to what we know
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