Bias number 39 is known as the default effect. This is a cognitive bias that influences a person’s decision-making behaviour by establishing a default response to a choice.
This bias is well-known to users of basic work productivity application suites like Microsoft Office or Apple iWork. When you buy a new computer or upgrade your programme to a new version, your applications are set to a “default” font for you, like Times New Roman or Helvetica. Most people stick to the font they are given.
No problem with that, right? If you know your way around the application, you can change the default settings easily enough. Personally, I always do. You might think it is because I like expressing my individuality. I’d say it’s a matter of house style. I want my brand to evoke a particular feel, so I choose a font that best reflects that.
To be honest, a little bit of both is true. I don’t like being told what to do by far away strangers who know nothing about me or my business. Stubborn? Moi? More intentional, I would say, even down to minuscule details.
The default effect bias shows up a lot in email marketing, where customers are automatically placed on a newsletter or offers mailing list. The marketer assumes that most people will keep this as their default setting. If you’re the type of person who has an email inbox or spam filter filled to bursting, then you’re almost certainly at the effect of this bias.
Why would a marketer do this, knowing that a good 95 per cent of people never look at their emails? It’s a perception thing, especially for investors. The larger their list of prospects and customers, the more valuable they appear. A large database of contacts creates value in the eyes of any would-be investor or company interested in acquisition.
What causes people to opt for the default setting? Part of it is the effort required to actively engage the brain to make a choice and then take action according to said choice. Saving time for some is just as important as saving money. If the brain can conserve energy by avoiding making a choice, it will.
If the default setting comes from a trusted source, people are more likely to accept it. The mere fact of setting a default suggests to some people that this is inherently the best choice, so they go with it. This becomes considerably more relevant when a choice carrying a perceived moral imperative becomes the thing to do, like being vaccinated against a virus that has a survival rate of 99.91 per cent or ticking the organ donor box on a driver’s licence application.
What I find interesting is just how willing people are to go along with what they’ve been told over exercising the freedom to choose. What it comes down to is simple: do you want an easy life or a created life?
If you opt for the easy road, you’ll probably let these little things slide. I mean, who cares about your choice of fonts, right?
The real questions, though, are these. Where else in your life are you letting little things slide? Where are you allowing “trusted source” to make decisions on your behalf? Where are you failing to invest the time it takes to make choices that support truth over herd mentality?
Have you considered that there may be fundamental ways in which your decisions are being steered towards a conclusion that may not be the best for you?
Take the vaccine issue, for example. The Centre for Disease Control in the US has reported that 1,170 people have died as a result of the recent COVID-19 vaccinations, and most of these people are young, healthy key workers. When you look at percentages, you arrive at a fact that is startling: 260 times more young people are dying from the vaccine than they would from COVID-19.
When you compare the number of deaths from the COVID-19 vaccine in three months to the average number of deaths per year as a result of the flu vaccination (around 200), already the number of deaths is nearly six times what would be expected if the vaccine were deemed safe.
Does this look like an initiative that promotes public health? Instead, it looks more like an initiative that compromises public health.
Tell me why you are not asking questions. Tell me why you are accepting the “default” solution of vaccinating against a virus that is no worse than a bad cold. Tell me why you trust “the powers that be” when they repeatedly demonstrate untrustworthiness.
Because this time it will be different? Because this time they are telling the truth?
Give me a break!
This virus issue is providing you with the perfect opportunity to use your God-given brain, the one that enables you to stop being a herd animal and start being a conscious, discerning, choice-making human. Realise when you’re being played and stop playing the game. Start exercising other areas of your brain. Make choice that work for you, not for the government.
Discover the power of choice. Combine it with critical thinking, which will enable you to utilise choice to its fullest extent. While it might be inconvenient in the short term, you’ll find that you save yourself a lot of time, money and heartache in the long run.
You can choose to be one amongst the million, being just like everyone else, or one in a million, a brilliant source of light that illuminates the dark places and awakens others to the fullness of their humanity in the process.
So, what will it be? Your choice.