3 facts of life – science
Most people consider common sense a strength. Many people lament the lack of common sense they believe others display.
Contrarily I would argue that common sense is not all that it is cracked up to be. I would argue that in achieving real success cost effectively common sense can be your greatest adversary.
Consider these three examples of common sense thinking:
- Information changes behaviour
- Attitudes change behaviour
- People know what motivates them
The facts – supported by extensive research suggests that in fact:
- Information and even education does not change behaviour efficiently
- Behaviour changes attitudes – not the inverse
- People are extremely bad at identifying what motivates them
I know – you don’t believe me.
So be it.
You are living proof that common sense is your greatest adversary.
Information can influence behaviour but it needs to be tangible, personalised, interactive and well framed. Even them it only influences and does not necessarily change behaviour. Smoking is a case in point. There would be just about no one in the western world that is not aware of the dangers of smoking but 14% of Australians still smoke – and the number of smokers in Australia started to decline well after we were all aware that it was not a healthy pursuit
Connecting with values can change behaviour and can indeed unite disparate groups to change together, but attitudes follow not lead behaviour. People will come together if the climate change argument is focused on waste (with no one wants) but they will not change just because they think climate change is a bad thing.
People know what problems they have and what problems they would like to eliminate but they do not know what they want and they do not know what motivates them. The greatest motivation for most human behaviour are social norms and following the leader – and yet – no one ever admits that they are motivated by sheeplike behaviour.
The fact is – human behaviour is a lot more complex that the common sense brigade think.
The fact is – relying on common sense is not cost effective.
The fact is – common sense is too often the refuge of the ill-informed.
That said, we all rely on common sense and we all benefit from common sense. We just need to know when we should look for and pay attention to the science.
Do you rely too heavily on common sense?
Should you access more of the science of human behaviour?
Can you make your marketing more cost effective with science?