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Here, we share updates from our work at Lynn – from announcements, award wins to case studies of how we effectively use behavioural science and misinformation strategy to create and implement campaigns that improve and save lives.

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Stuck at the till and fancy a chocolate to go? You look around but there’s no chocolate in sight – instead packets of nuts and fruit line the checkout shelves. Okay, that’ll do. You pop through two packets of nuts and a piece of fruit to your basket and proceed to checkout. Sound familiar?

Director of The BS Unit

Companies such as Facebook and Google are paving the way in AI marketing by putting it to work targeting potential customers with personalised targeted ads.

Choice architecture describes the way in which our decisions are influenced by the presentation of choices, like those chocolate bars or those online magazine subscriptions. The choice architect is the policy maker, decision maker, or whoever is in charge who is able to frame information in a particular format, to get their customer to behave in a certain way.

Behavioural design is about influencing and changing the behaviour of your customers, so they make better decisions, it incorporates how people think and how this influences their decision making. Humans are mostly linear thinkers, we complete tasks the way we have always done them out of convenience.

Despite having a huge PR apparatus behind it, the political persuasion industry has been found wanting in its effectiveness. A huge U.S study from 2017 concluded that political campaigns were having ‘minimal persuasive effects’. To understand where our industry can do better, we need to know why it’s so hard.

Hope. For many of us, over the course of the pandemic, it’s been in fairly short supply.

Almost 40 years ago, in 1984, the now world-renowned researcher Robert Cialdini published his book ‘Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion’. This is the book in which he first presented his six principles of persuasion.

Almost 40 years ago, in 1984, the now world-renowned researcher Robert Cialdini published his book ‘Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion’. This is the book in which he first presented his six principles of persuasion.

Monday 22 November, the Misinformation Cell held its first, sell out webinar – 'In conversation with the Misinformation Cell' – where our CEO Shayoni Lynn and our Head of Misinformation Cell Stefan Rollnick sat down to try to demystify mis and disinformation. If you want to make sure you’re first in the queue for our next one, you can sign up for Misinformation Cell updates here.

People only notice something when it stands out to them; otherwise, it is almost invisible. A simple example of this is when you decide to look for a particular make of car, and then you start to see these everywhere. The number of these cars has not suddenly increased. They were always there. It is just your attention to them that has altered. This make of car is now the most noticeable and relevant thing to you. It is salient, so your brain 'looks' for it. This is an example of where salience has been brought about by shifting attention to a specific feature.

Is misinformation getting worse? The short answer is yes. The misinformation challenge has grown over the last ten years for a variety of reasons. Probably the most significant change over the last two decades has been our ‘information environment’. While the vast majority of us once got our news from a small number of common, trusted sources, billions of people around the world are now getting their news through their news feeds on social media. This ‘news’ can be produced by anyone, anywhere in the world. Importantly, with the new tools in web design and the platform provided by social media, it’s easy to produce content that has the look and feel of reliable, mainstream news.

The reasons why people fall for misinformation fall on a spectrum: from non-political reasons to intensely political. Misinformation is often believed by people who lack knowledge/expertise in a particular field, people suffering with anxiety about a particular topic (e.g. health anxiety), as well as people who passively scroll through social media to find news instead of deliberately seeking it out from trusted outlets.

The rise of misinformation in our society has been supercharged by what academics call ‘information overload’, which means our brains are processing more information than they can handle, often leaving us in a state of overwhelm, making us more vulnerable to misinformation. So, if you sometimes find yourself thinking back to the political earthquakes of 2016 and feeling like the years since then have been a blur, it’s no accident. 

Polarised. Partisan. Divided. Entrenched. Our need for co-operation has never been greater, so why do we find ourselves so far apart? From tackling the climate emergency to dismantling the politics of hate, good communication is vital. We need to talk responsibly and listen wisely. But all too often, we dismiss and deride. We stoke divisions and ignore evidence, even if it costs our own health.

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