The Theory of Thinking

Everything that consumers do is captured, observed and analysed by researchers and marketing experts in the hope of working out they are thinking. By decoding behaviour and knowing the answer to the question “why?” researchers can make a useful contribution and marketers are able to find new ways develop a successful business.

Making Rational Choices

All this thinking about thinking assumes there is a rational reason for people’s actions. Economic theories such as Gary Becker’s Theory of Rational Choice argue that people make buying decisions based on a process of efficient information gathering, structured comparison and then rational selection of the best option. In spite of the fact that everyone wants to feel happy about what they do, people make different “rational choices”. Even though the theory suggests that customers are going through the same information- comparison – selection – decision process, their perception of what will deliver this differs. This variation is down to their individual perspective, situation, circumstances and experience history.

Decision Vertigo

The problem with this theory is that it implies there are economies of scale when it comes to thinking. This means the more consumers think and compare, the better and more rational decisions they will make (thus becoming happier). However, our experience of researching consumer behaviour at Tangible over the past 15 years is that there are in fact huge diseconomies of scale for consumers when it comes to thinking. The more rational a consumer is forced to be the more uncomfortable they become about making decisions to change their behaviour.  It leads to what psychologist Professor Barry Schwartz calls Decision vertigo.

“When we are frozen rather than energised by being presented with so many options that we can’t make any decision”.

As Mark Lepper says, the natural human behaviour is to opt for the easiest, most familiar decision rather than risking failure with something new.

We thrive when we have less choice, excess choice is paralysis rather than liberation.”

So, we believe that too much thinking makes your brain hurt, and in the worst cases actually reduces buying potential. Our theory about thinking is that, for consumers, less is more.
Get in touch if you would like practical advice on finding ways to help your consumers think less 

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