I’ve traveled a lot this year and have a lot
more trips coming up. If my travel schedule plays out I’ll have been on the
road half of the weeks this year and spent at least 50 nights in hotels. Think
about that– 10 weeks away from my family! Some days have entailed hitting the
road by 4 a.m. to catch early morning flights and arriving home close to
midnight. If you travel you know if can be tiring!
flight home I got a text from my daughter, Abigail, asking if I wanted to get
some ice cream at Graeter’s when I landed because she wanted to tell me about
her first days of college. Despite being tired I agreed because I don’t view
such times as a sacrifice; rather it was an investment in her and our
flavor I was in the mood for and whether I’d go with a single scoop or a double.
If you’ve been to Graeter’s you know the ice cream is great but you pay a
premium for it!
As I looked at the menu I saw a single scoop
cone was $2.95 and a double was $4.25. I thought, “I just bought a half gallon
of really good Homemade ice cream for just over $5,” so I was reluctant to get
two scoops at that price. The other thought that raced through my head was,
“That’s almost twice as much.” When you do the math, you know it’s not twice as
much, but my mind quickly registered the $2.95 and $4.25 as $2 vs. $4 because
those are the numbers each price started with.
decided what to do was the fact that I was still a little full from dinner a
few hours ago. I decided to skip the cone to save a few calories so I asked for
a single scoop in a cup. The server said, “Would you like a second scoop for
just 50 cents more?” I recall thinking, “For 50 cents why not, that’s a good deal?”
because in my mind the option of going from one to two scoops was twice as much
ice cream but not at double the price.
$3.75 and two scoops were $4.25…the same prince as the two scoops in a cone
that I’d just decided to pass on! It was only a 50-cent difference but in the
end I got two scoops…no cone…and paid the same amount I’d mentally rejected
persuasion, pricing, etc., and yet I ended up in the very place I was initially
trying to avoid. Before you chuckle, I can assure you I could probably spot
similar inconsistencies in some of your decision-making.
“two scoops for nearly double the price” to “a second scoop for just 50 cents
more” when in the end, the price was $4.25 in each case!
vacuum. To assess a “deal,” we’re always making comparisons to other things. My
first thought was two scoops for about the same price as a box of ice cream is
not a good deal. However, knowing the first scoop was pretty expensive, getting
a second scoop for just 50 cents more seemed like a great deal. My mistake was
that I didn’t pay close attention to the price of a single scoop in a cone vs.
the price of one scoop in a cup. I mistakenly assumed getting ice cream in a
cup would be less expensive, certainly not more, because I couldn’t eat the cup.
with a similar decision.
- Try to remove your emotions from the decision.
Many behavioral economics studies show people are emotional creatures that
occasionally make rational decisions (i.e., We have five TVs but I want a 66-inch
- Recognize you’re always making comparisons to
other things. Make sure you’re comparing to the right thing and don’t just look
for something that will confirm what you emotionally want (i.e., I know we
don’t need another television but it’s 50% off!).
- Take a moment to consider the value of the
thing you’re considering regardless of what you’re comparing to. Value is
subjective but oftentimes we ascribe too much value to things we believe will
make us happier or more fulfilled (i.e., What will the 66-inch screen, even if
on sale, really add to your life?).
Follow these simple steps and you’ll probably
make better decisions; the kinds you look back on with pride, not regret.
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.