This is simply the 3rd installment of my annual summary of everything I tweeted about shaping behavior over the year. From statistical innovations to physical shop design, a lot of interesting things made it to mainstream news and made 2014 a really interesting year. Although it would have been great if it didn’t, even A/B testing made it into the headlines with Facebook and OkCupid’s public relations disasters.
Although I mostly tweet about online behavior change and conversion optimisation, this year was also surprisingly much about behavior change unspecific to on- or offline. While the CIA manual to creating and spreading rumours is from 1944, it came onto my radar this year through a talk on information security by Rand Waltzman at the KDD conference, and it’s a fascinating read and possibly as useful in 2014 as 1944.
I’m @matseinarsen at Twitter, if you want to follow me for more updates in 2015 or want to recommend an article.
Shaping real world behavior
First of all just a few articles on offline behavior shaping. I really love this perspective, and wish there were more things published about shaping group behaviour. On the other hand, I take it for granted that companies protects insights in this area as highly important trade secrets, so not expecting much except the occasional drip.
I’d like a latte and a long messy wait
AS IF to defend its policy of publishing long detailed stories on small offbeat subjects, the Wall Street Journal comes…
The secret tricks airports use on you
AIRPORTS can be stressful and chaotic places at times, so the last thing you need added into the mix is confusion about…
Dutch supermarkets move to ban sweets from check-outs
Three big Dutch supermarket chains are working on plans to stop placing sweets and chocolate close to their cash…
In crowds, human ‘particles’ follow laws of movement — The Boston Globe
Walking down the street , we feel like agents of our own destiny. But perhaps we shouldn’t be so sure. Behavioral…
Experimentation and statistics
Two really fascinating things came about this year. First is CodeCon — the Conference on Digital Experimentation — which was held for the first time at MIT this august. I can’t state enough what a great conference that was. Check out the link below to the beautiful brain maps that were drawn during the conference.
Graphic Facilitation at #CODECON14
See more about online advertising, experiment and david.
The second fascinating thing is the noise analysis methodology to identifying cause-and-effect relationships in correlations. The methodology is really straightforward and makes intuitively sense, and even in the case that you can’t make strong statements about causality it will at a minimum help in prioritizing the importance of correlations when going fishing in big data sets.
Cause And Effect: The Revolutionary New Statistical Test That Can Tease Them Apart
Statisticians have always thought it impossible to tell cause and effect apart using observational data. Not any more.
Scientific method: Statistical errors
DALE EDWIN MURRAY For a brief moment in 2010, Matt Motyl was on the brink of scientific glory: he had discovered that…
The Facebook and OkCupid controversy
This story has annoyed me as there’s been a lot of statements about ethics in research I just don’t agree with and basically find to be very muddled thinking. Not to make a statement about the ethics of the Facebook experiment (ethical) or the OkCupid experiments (mostly not ethical), but overall I don’t get why the experimentation itself is at the centre of the ethics debate.
Would the changes Facebook or OkCupid made be more or less ethical if they didn’t have a control condition and measured the impact? I can’t see why that makes any difference. And then you’re just left with a debate on whether or not companies can do unethical things and that is just clearly the case and not a very interesting debate on it’s own.
Either way, here are the most important articles written about it over the year.
Facebook tinkered with users’ feeds for a massive psychology experiment
Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users…
Dear Facebook, Please Experiment On Me
Dear Mark Zuckerberg, As I’m sure you know, my Facebook feed has exploded with strong positive and negative opinions…
Scientists Are Still Using Facebook to Study Human Behavior
Image: Shutterstock If there was any doubt that large-scale experimentation on social network users would continue…
OKCupid Plays With Love in User Experiments
Love is not blind, as it turns out. But opposites attract when people think they are similar. These are two findings…
The problem with OKCupid is the problem with the social web
Hi, everybody! Tim Carmody here, guest-hosting for Jason this week. On Monday, I tried to list some reasons why OKCupid…
Why don’t OKCupid’s experiments bother us like Facebook’s did?
Hi, everybody! Tim Carmody here, guest-hosting for Jason this week. OK Cupid’s Christian Rudder has responded to the…
Lab rats: online experiments
We’re all part of the social experiment Do you remember how you were feeling between 11 and 18 January, 2012? If you’re…
Deals and Decisions
Deal Seeker Study Says Too Many Discounts Can Be Bad for Business
posted on “Would you like 20% off your order today?” “No, thank you. I’d rather pay full price.” Sounds silly when you…
Harvard Psychologist Reveals How We’re Constantly Being Manipulated By Prices
Psychological science has found out at least two things about human nature: We don’t always act in our own best…
Deconstructing the Price Tag
When a company sets a price for a product, shoppers typically have no idea what it costs to produce that item. But it…
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Conquering “Decision Fatigue”
After my first day of work in a new city, I found myself sprawled facedown on the carpet of my new apartment. I needed…
25 Fascinating Charts Of Negotiation Styles Around The World — Business Insider
Language is only the most obvious part of the global communication gap. Different cultures also have distinct…
One way to boost organ donations: Just keep asking
One possible solution for America’s growing need for organ donors could be relatively simple, according to new research…
Online persuasion and conversion optimisation
5 Ancient Persuasion Techniques That Can Rock Your Website Today
What does a 4th century BC philosopher have to do with your e-commerce website? Absolutely everything. Before you let…
Happiness, the Oft-Forgotten Key to Conversion (Part 1)
Andrew Wood, the marketer who introduced me to direct response copywriting always said (and still says): you must…
Conversion Copywriting: Words & Phrases That Make People Click [Infographic]
This data-backed infographic shows why word choice is so important in marketing, and which words are most likely to…
Social Media Influence: 10 Theories to Know For Greater Persuasion
What are we really talking about when we’re talking about conversions? Persuasion, right? Influence. When we talk about…
Why Big Data Missed the Early Warning Signs of Ebola
Hint: Ils ne parlent pas le français. By Kalev LeetaruKalev H. Leetaru is the Yahoo! Fellow in Residence at the…
Science paper on Social Influence Bias
Exciting news! The paper I co-authored with Lev Muchnik and my advisor, Sinan Aral. Social Influence Bias: A Randomized…
Reverse-engineering censorship in China: Randomized experimentation and participant observation
Censorship has a long history in China, extending from the efforts of Emperor Qin to burn Confucian texts in the third…
Data Science Cuisine
Ok, I just have three things here this year, one of them isn’t a proper article, and “Data Science Cuisine” is just a term I made up myself. But I’d really like to see this become a thing! Please everyone, let’s make data driven gastronomy happen!
Food Tastes Bland While Multitasking
Paying mindful attention to one’s food leads people to eat less but savor it more Eating while distracted is well known…
I Tasted BBQ Sauce Made By IBM’s Watson, And Loved It
IBM sent me a bottle of BBQ sauce designed by Watson, so I ate it. My job is weird sometimes. Yes, it’s THE Watson. The…
Triposo Labs: Cuisine guesser
For restaurants in our travel guides, we like to provide information about what cuisine they offer. Sometimes we can…
Putting this together, I realize all the articles I posted on this topic this year are from Harvard Business Review. I guess there’s an endorsement of HBR in that, but it would be nice to see good, academically driven content about business topics from another source too. The two slideshows below on Google and Netflix are quite interesting insights from the insides of important companies, though, so highly recommended.
The Discipline of Business Experimentation — HBR
Idea in Brief The Problem In the absence of sufficient data to inform decisions about proposed innovations, managers…
In Hiring, Algorithms Beat Instinct — HBR
You know your company inside out. You know the requirements of the position you need to fill. And now that HR has…
Design and creativity
Why Algorithms Are The Next Star Designers
The industrial designer of the future might just be a computer. The traditional design process can be a laborious one…
Algorithmic journalism machine generates free FOMO newspaper in Milan
Milan 2014: Dezeen has teamed up with design research collaborative Space Caviar to distribute a free publication…
12 design secrets spilled by Jony Ive | Cult of Mac
Jony Ive made a rare public appearance at the Design Museum in London yesterday, where he discussed a range of topics…
Why major creative breakthroughs happen in your late thirties
James Murphy, the former frontman of the band LCD Soundsystem, made what he called the biggest mistake of his life at…
DIY brain hacking. More of this too, please!
The OpenHardwareExG is a platform for ECG, EEG, EMG, ENG, EOG, and evoked potential applications. The OpenHardwareExG…
Brain Hacking Is Having Incredible Effects, and It’s Just Getting Started
Researchers think that as we learn more about the brain, we’ll be able to use electricity to boost focus, memory…
The Neuroscience Of Emoticons
It’s hard to say for sure when the first emoticon appeared-some see one as far back as 1862, in the transcript of a…
The most interesting point to bring up here is how the observation that Twitter usage can be linked to psychosis — should that influence how we look at the ethics of AB testing in social media?
Twitter psychosis: a rare variation or a distinct syndrome? — PubMed — NCBI
J Nerv Ment Dis. 2014 Aug;202(8):623. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000173. Case Reports; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t
The computer will see you now
ELLIE is a psychologist, and a damned good one at that. Smile in a certain way, and she knows precisely what your smile…
I like this guide so much I wanted to give it special attention.
THE BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS GUIDE 2014 — A FREE BEHAVIOR CHANGE RESOURCE
In the Northern Hemisphere at least, the Summer holidays are upon us. So for a lot of us it’s time to pack our bags and…
And finally, for reference since these were on my private blog, here’s my summaries for 2013 and 2012: