Did you know that our decision making process is often based on the environment that we are in? For example, as I’m writing this article, I could be sipping on a hazelnut latte. However, I’m currently looking at a bottle of water. Although I am capable of walking out to buy a cup of coffee, I probably would not, because I’m faced with an easier alternative – to drink the water that is within my reach.
Our brain often decides for the simpler option if there isn’t a huge difference in the perceived outcome, so if I keep fruits in my kitchen instead of potato crisps, then having a fruit as a mid-day snack becomes my easier, default decision.
Choice architecture is the impact that our environment can have on our decision making. We often go for items at eye level on the shelf at the supermarket, rather than reach for the ones that are on the bottom shelf.
Our day-to-day decision making process is also a function of how our brain prefers to process information. If we are a social, relational thinker, we may settle for fruits as a snack but if our close friends or family members want potato crisps, we may probably be tempted to dart out to the nearest store to get some.
Likewise, if we are more of an analytical thinker, we may look at the ingredients and nutrition table of the potato crisps to make certain that our choice of fruits is a good one. Or if we generally prefer to remain firm and focused in our decisions, it might take some convincing for us to have some fruit if our mind was already craving for the potato crisps.
Emergenetics is a proven, measurable way to recognise and apply thinking and behaviour patterns that people use regularly. People are unique and it usually takes some effort to understand why people make different decisions from what we might.
Can we apply both Choice Architecture and Emergenetics to our families? Perhaps, by doing so, we can encourage them to make better and healthier decisions in a gentle, yet effective way!
Here’s an idea. While we are feeling motivated, why don’t we set a date with the family, kids included, to go cycling at the park this Saturday morning? At the same time, let’s take the bicycles out, and set them with the cycling sneakers and helmet. And when Saturday morning comes around, the chances of us backing out is slimmer since we have almost everything ready to go.
Now, all we’re left to do is to plant the question in a friendly, light-hearted way, “so, what should we do today?”, which would appeal to the social thinkers who may prefer a gentle nudge in a peaceful way, than to be told what to do in a driving, telling manner.
Are your little ones (or you) eating more chocolates than they should? How about this, try replacing your chocolate box in the refrigerator with a colourful fruit bowl. Mix it up a little; apples, pineapples, pears, grapes, blueberries and more. The colours are pretty look at, and it’s a bowl of healthy yumminess. Influence their default decisions just by changing the environment, while also appealing to all their natural thinking and behavioural attributes!
Remember, your environment, thinking and behaviour, shapes your habits and your decision making process – surround yourself with better choices, appeal to others in a holistic manner, and life would be a happier and healthier one!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Assistant Manager, Market Development
Emergenetics International- Asia Pacific
Jan Ng is the Assistant Manager of Business Development at Emergenetics International – Asia Pacific. She has a passion for cooking and travelling the world, emerging herself in new cultures and trying different cuisines from around the globe.