Understand the market

When constructing your product, consider what the market it looking for and to what they apply value.

The purveyors of hot dogs sell hot dog sausages that are longer than the bread rolls so the sausage sticks out at both ends.  Delighted people say “Look how generous they are with their sausages!“, rather than miserably mutter “Look how stingy and mean they are with their bread rolls“.

They use under-sized rolls to give the impression of adding extra in the component where the punter sees value: the sausage.

But by being mean with the bread, the punter remains hungry and returns for more, sooner.

It is not enough to know hat you are selling: you also need to know what the customer values and tailor your product and marketing accordingly.

The value of stickers

I know, I know. I’m supposed to be a grown up and grateful and not need nominal tokens to recognise my compliance. But I didn’t want it done and I did comply against my will and I think I deserve something to say “Good citizen”. Whoever made the decision to save pennies by not acknowledging civil compliance in a national programme that is costing over £300 billion has missed a key component in the psychology of stakeholder management. I now totally resent having been subjected to the experience and having chosen to demonstrate civil obedience.

The change management purpose of such stickers (like charity wristbands and badges and poppies) is to demonstrate a social norm: make those without one feel they are not part of the crowd, are missing out, are being abnormal. It’s a positive, fun way to build a social standard of vaccination as the right thing to do because everyone else is doing it. (That was the view of Public Health England in December 2020 who provided the leaflets, cards, stickers and social media content as a combined package to promote compliance.)

I know it sounds pathetic, but not getting the sticker creates the reaction of “Oh, I’ve done as ordered, but don’t even get a thanks. Wish I hadn’t bothered. I won’t, next time.” and I can even feel it in myself.

Branding is extremely important in our society: the label on your clothes, bags, shoes, car says who you are and what you align with. Corporates give out pens and mousemats with the logo on as they are aspirational items, despite being of nominal value. A Ferrari keyfob for your old runabout is still a status item down the pub.

But my accepting an injection into my body that I did not want – in a programme that has made some people very rich – does not even warrant a sticker. I feel abused. And I don’t know who to tell but I need to let it out. And I probably need to be told I am totally over-reacting. But I won’t be alone.

I’ll get embarrassed and delete this later when I’ve calmed down.

Personality profiling tests

I am not a fan of personality profiling tests.  For anyone who says they are: go and do five minutes research on them.

Are you back?  Yes, sorry, you fell for the marketing, didn’t you?  Never mind, many do.

Anyway, I don’t think they like me either:

Dear Simon
SJT Test feedback
Thank you for completing the Situational Judgment.
You scored better than 0% of people who previously completed the test.

I don’t think I’ll be getting an interview!

Bias regarding fear of war allowing wars to happen

As creatures, we are very poor at assessing risk.  This knowledge was reinforced by what I learned in the Open University module DD210 Living psychology: from the everyday to the extraordinary.  I suspect that is one of the reasons we allow wars to happen.

On the same theme The Ostrich Paradox: Why We Underprepare for Disasters by Robert Meyer and Howard Kunreuther may be a relevant and useful read.  It looks as though they consider why we allow things to happen.  They highlight six behaviours:

  1. Amnesia bias: only focussing on recent experience so we forget the experience of past wars.
  2. Optimism bias: we are optimistic by nature and although know wars happen, believe wars will not happen to us.
  3. Single action bias: it is enough to make one small act of protest thinking that will be enough to protect us.
  4. Myopia: only considering the short term, that war won’t happen soon so it will never happen.
  5. Inertia: it is too hard to face the problem and tackle it, when it might not even happen, thereby allowing it to happen.
  6. Herding: doing what we perceive everyone else to do, which is nothing, so nobody does anything.

But that list does not tell us what to do about them; perhaps the rest of their book does.

Are pacifists optimists or pessimists?

I was at a peace conference at the weekend.  A full-time peace worker said “Of course, you have to be an optimist to believe peace is possible“.  Puzzled, I disagreed, saying “In my experience, peace activists are pessimists and do what they do because they fear the worst will happen“.  Some discussion followed.

I have since worked out the difference: he was talking about employees and I was talking about volunteers.  He could not do his job if he was pessimistic and I would have no motivation if I was optimistic.

What you can do with that knowledge, I have no idea.

But what does it mean about me going from a peace-worker volunteer to becoming a peace sector employee?

How might post-traumatic stress disorder change warfare?

This is a brief note from thinking about Open University DD210 Living Psychology module, book 2, chapter 13, page 149…172 ‘3. The impact of extreme circumstances‘, ‘4. Recovery, resilience and post-traumatic growth‘ and ‘5. Perils, pitfalls and positive effects of psychological interventions‘.

Post-traumatic stress disorder.  People can be damaged by what they are ordered to do; might this change how warfare is conducted?

Millennia ago and centuries, marching off to another country or city allowed preparation time, bonding and training time on the way there.  On the way back there was lots of time for reflection with those who had been through the same experience, done in an environment of routine, with physical activity and done outdoors.  Might that have prevented PTSD for most people?  Is PTSD a phenomenon that arrived with the ability to leave the front line and go home fairly quickly?

Might the consequences of PTSD on military personnel make government change the way warfare is conducted so that it is prevented?  If so, what will that look like?

Is PTSD just an infantry complaint?  Do snipers get it worse than combat area engineers?  Do bomber crews get PTSD?  What about drone pilots who work 9-5 and go home every evening?  Who suffers most: conscripts, volunteers or militia?  Do revolutionaries / guerillas / freedom fighters get it?  Do victors get it?  Is it worse for those who suffer defeat?  How bad is it for child soldiers?

How bad is it for civilians in a war zone?  Refugees?  Survivors?  Orphans?  (And does anyone in governments care about civilians in war zones? It does not seem so.)

What research is being done in PTSD?  By whom?  Why?  Is it for peaceful purposes to demonstrate how warfare is bad, or to make warfare and killing less stressful for the troops so that it can continue?