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Sometimes I think SF practice means skillfully navigating and using human biases and quirks.
Take, for example, the "anchoring bias".
if, in a questionnaire, I use the questions "how happy are you?" and "how often do you date?" in that order, the correlation of the answers to those questions is very small (0.1 or something like that).
But if I reverse the order of the questions, i.e. if I ask first "how often do you date?" and then "how happy are you?" the answers to the two questions turn out to be more strongly correlated (0.6 something), i.e. if you say you date a lot you then tend to think of yourself as happy, while if you say you do not date a lot you then tend to think of yourself as not as happy.
Dating has been evoked, it has been made salient in your mind, and it has become your criteria for happiness.

Now, isn't that what we do with our questions?
First, we elicit "exceptions".
Then, we might ask the client to rate his confidence, or how useful the session was...
et voila'!
The anchoring "bias" pressed into SF service!!

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Comment by Mark McKergow on July 6, 2008 at 21:52
Hi Paolo

Very interesting points. I think that this is a large part of what we do. It's no surprise that this happens IMHO... but it IS surprising about how much it can do!
Comment by Paolo Terni on June 28, 2008 at 18:00
Hi Coert,
thanks for stopping by!

Yes, I definitely think priming research has some insights that are relevant to SF (I mean Bargh and others).
By focusing on "positive exceptions" we prime clients to succeed.

I'll check out the sterotype threat research and see...

Thanks again for your comment and for your insightful considerations,
best,
ciao,
Paolo
Comment by Coert Visser on June 28, 2008 at 11:00
Hi Paolo,
Very interesting what you write about your two questions experiment. Indeed. with questions you can evoke behaviors, perceptions and even goals. Indeed, this principle can be applied for good purposes, as SF does. I agree.

Your blog post reminds me of two fascinating lines of research in social psychology: Priming research and stereotype threat research (which perhaps could viewed as a special case of priming research).

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