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You’re Biased (and I can prove it)

November 24, 2021– I hope that you’re gaining a lot of valuable knowledge and insight this month as we’re giving out daily author tips for self and book promotion. As you probably know, I was fortunate to study Consumer Neuromarketing and Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen a couple of years ago; today, I’ll talk about cognitive biases and how they can help you promote yourself and your books when implemented correctly.  (I can’t believe I’m giving this info away!) Here we go!

  1. Availability Bias– This bias is essentially a shortcut in our minds that causes us to rely solely on readily available knowledge rather than examining alternatives. We rely on immediate examples based on our most vivid experiences or memories in decision-making. It’s a shortcut for our brains to say, yeah, I know reading is good. You’re basing ‘reading is good’ on the information you have readily available in your brain, such as remembering all the times your parents read to you as a child or recalling the experience you had waiting in line all night for the release of your favourite author’s book and the excitement it created.
  2. False Consensus Bias-This bias is when people assume that others think the way that they do. They overestimate the degree to which their habits, values, beliefs, preferences, and opinions are normal and related to the general population. “I love books so much!” Well, not everyone does. Or “The movie was way better than the book!” Umm..no, it wasn’t. See what I mean? Not everyone thinks the way that you do.
  3. Choice-Supportive Bias-This bias happens after we make a decision. When we choose something (because we chose it and are the smartest, most educated person ever to exist), it can’t possibly be the wrong choice! We tend to feel positive about our choices, even if the choice we make has flaws. Humans also seek out information that (only) supports their choice. The point is, people hate being wrong, and they’ll do whatever it takes to make their decisions seem right. For example, we know that literacy matters, but there are people out there who will argue that kids ‘lose out on life’ if they spend too much time with their noses buried in books. They’ll argue that children who read often lack social skills or that their interpersonal skills aren’t up to snuff. Actually, studies show that the opposite is true; children who read have enhanced empathy, a higher ability to problem solve, are better at conversing due to a vast lexicon to draw upon (see what I mean?),  and improved focus and concentration, which are crucial traits of a good conversationalist. I feel like I should drop a mic here, but that’s my own choice-supportive bias coming into play as I’ve chosen the career of a publisher.
  4. Optimism Bias-This bias correlates directly with the amygdala part of the brain, which controls emotion. Often referred to as Lizard Brain, our old brain tends to make us more optimistic than we should be and hard wire us to follow wishful thinking. It leads us to believe that we are at a lower risk of experiencing a negative outcome than a positive one and that the future will be better. For example, I’m not going to buy the author’s book now, I’ll wait until it goes on sale (the future will be better), or I’ll wait to see if I win it in the draw they’re having (wishful thinking).
  5. Sunk Cost Bias-This bias leads us to stick with opportunities for too long when we have invested a lot of time or money. We irrationally pursue activities or things that don’t meet our expectations because of the aforementioned reasons. People stay in bad relationships (But, I’ve been with them for fifteen years, I can’t leave now! What a waste of time!), occupations they hate (same example as above), and continue to harm themselves through poor choices such as gambling (I can’t quit now, I have to win my money back), or addiction (I have to eat this entire $30 chocolate cake because it was too expensive to throw away even though I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle).

I’m going to leave out the familiarity bias and the reciprocity bias for now in the interest of having this post not read like a phone book. The point of this post is to educate you into tiny insights into consumer behaviour and why people do the things they do. Keeping these biases in mind, how will you change your book-selling and promoting strategy? Will you look at your consumers through a different lens and try to understand them more effectively?  For more information on Consumer Neuromarketing for Authors, check out my course here: Neuromarketing for Authors Course – Pandamonium Publishing House

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