At Discover Magazine, Alex Stone writes about how “seemingly irrelevant details such as the phrasing of the parameters can play a decisive role in our decisions.”
These findings run counter to our intuition because we tend to regard our choices as outward reflections of inner values. In those we elect, in those we marry, in our purchase choices and dietary decisions, we believe that our choices define us and express us. Our instincts tells us that we are good at “endgaming” our decisions, that our choices matter and our preferences sway the outcomes in meaningful ways.
But a growing mass of empirical evidence on the cognitive processes behind decision-making suggests otherwise.
This problem is especially apparent in political surveys, where polling results can be dramatically affected by how the questions are framed. Stone’s piece includes some great examples—culled from magic tricks—that demonstrate the point well.