"Who" likes what you like? Freedom and control, the duality of selection.

“Who” likes what you like? Freedom and control, the duality of selection.

In recent year, since the sale of iPhones, many companies are putting their efforts in smartphone sales.

* There are 2 billion smartphone users by 2015.

2 Billion Smartphone Users By 2015 : 83% of Internet Usage From Mobiles [Study]

Source:2 Billion Smartphone Users By 2015 : 83% of Internet Usage From Mobiles [Study]

If you are buying a smartphone, how should you select the best one? This time, using smartphones as an example, “freedom and control, the two sides of selection” will be discussed. There are largely two ways to make the selection.

1、Should you simply follow others’ recommendations?

2、Should you come up with the best one on your own, among numerous options?

Should you simply follow others’ recommendations?


If reputable companies, popular celebrities, or your good friends say “this is a great smartphone,” then, the chances are high that, it is indeed great, because presumably, they are speaking from their own experiences. Moreover, if someone, who is more knowledgeable than yourself, is making a claim about a smartphone, you may actually discover its positive aspects that you would not have easily discovered on your own.

* Regarding the “advertisement” market, which is one of the ways to receive product introductions from others.

Global Ad Spending Growth to Double This Year Global Ad Spending Growth to Double This Year

Source:Global Ad Spending Growth to Double This Year

On the other hand, some of the negatives would be that, potentially, their recommendations are skewed by their personal thoughts and opinions, or the product information offered could be limited by their knowledge or ulterior motives, like profitability (for example, a good friend may actually not be particularly savvy with smartphones). Additionally, if it is uncertain whether a source can be trusted, it becomes difficult to determine the validity of their claims.

Moreover, recently, it is said that products could be advertised, using methods based on psychology or neurobiology, such that, it is possible to control your selections by making you like something that you initially did not. In this way, the means of product introduction can be improved, for example, to alter the expression on advertisements.

* An experiment showing that the results could be manipulated by altering the ways to sign the consent form for organ donation. Left side of the bar graph shows the results from asking to “check if wanting to participating in organ donation,” and the right side shows the results from asking to “check if NOT wanting to participate.” In the countries, that delivered the question in the latter format, saw an increase in the number of participants (around the 6 minute mark in the following video).

Are we in control of our own decisions?

* An experiment showing that the selection of a potential date, can be manipulated. There was Tom and Jerry. In group A, when a less attractive Jerry look-alike was placed in the group, Jerry became more likely to be selected. Similarly, when a less attractive Tom look-alike was placed in group B, Tom became more likely to be selected (around the 14 minute mark in the following video).

Are we in control of our own decisions?

Source:Are we in control of our own decisions?

* Mere exposure effect: an experiment which showed that it is possible to develop affection simply by increasing one’s familiarity with the subject. In this experiment, multiple male faces were used.

Attitudinal Effects of Mere Exposure

Source:Attitudinal Effects of Mere Exposure

Should you come up with the best one on your own, among numerous options?

Self Choice

In purchasing a smartphone, it is possible to select the one that has the functions, color, shape, and price that you want.

If you could not find one that perfectly fits all of your needs, it is still possible to find a suitable one by making a list of the potential candidates and thinking about the pros and cons of each.

One of the issues with this option is that, the process could be difficult, due to the vast number of choices, if you are unclear about what you want and need in a smartphone. Even if you are relatively clear about your needs and wants in a smartphone, the selection could get difficult, if too much focus is placed on the negative aspects of each product.

* There are about 3,997 types of Android smartphones. There may be great phones that others are not recommending.

Android Fragmentation Visualized

Source:Android Fragmentation Visualized

* There are 400,000 applications in the Android Market.

Google Android Market Tops 400,000 Applications

Source:Google Android Market Tops 400,000 Applications

In an experiment, it is known that, too many options pose great stress on a person.

* A food sample booth was placed near the entrance of a grocery store, and the customers’ behaviors were observed by offering either 24 or 6 kinds of jams to sample. More customers were attracted to the booth when 24 kinds of jams were offered, however, the sales were 6 times higher when only 6 kinds of jams were offered (less variety).

Sheena Iyengar Jam Study

Source:Sheena Iyengar Jam Study

Final important points

1. The difference is, whether you have strong needs and wants, or not.

If you feel that “any smartphone is fine,” then you can simply get one that is recommended by someone else. Alternatively, if you want “a smartphone with specific functions,” then you should make your own selection, accordingly.

2. Applying this selection method in other situations.

In order to be happy, people make decisions all the time, not just in purchasing a smartphone. We make decisions when we shop, vote, set schedules, hang out with friends, and get married, just to name a few examples. At times, we will spend great amount of time thinking about a decision, and other times, the decision will simply be made automatically. In this world, our parents are likely to be the first ones to introduce many things to us, such that, our decisions, could often be subconsciously influenced by their ways. Moreover, same could be said, about imposing others’ opinions, for church, city, nation, and large corporations.

3. Are your desires really “your own” desires?

As shown in the experiments mentioned above, our decisions are made rather illogically, even if we think we know our own needs and wants, and there is a real possibility that our decisions are influenced by others. Is your happiness, really a happiness for yourself?

Supplement: is it right to doubt common sense?

There are those who urge us to “doubt common sense,” however, this is a difficult issue. Here, “common sense” would refer to, “others’ recommendations.” In order to solve the problems that arise from unchanging ways of thinking, it may be important to question the unchanging ways of thinking. Nevertheless, there is both good and bad, in the unchanging ways of thinking. If a person questions too much about “what is my happiness? Is this right?,” he may not be able to easily attain happiness.

Supplement: the difficulty in setting a selection standard.

Basically, what constitutes “happiness”? Is it about being rich? Is it to live a long time? Is it to do what one like, for as long as one wants? Is it to volunteer in a developing country? Setting the standard for one’s happiness is very important for the individual, and the society.

Supplement: Should humans be logical?

The modern Western thinking are based on “logically thinking individuals.” Which is, therefore, successfully “deriving what is best for the individual, among numerous options, for oneself.” From this, an equation was born: allowance to make any selections = being responsible for oneself, as the price of that freedom = personal responsibility. Recently, however, many experiments show that our actual decision making processes are very illogical.

* If anyone has any other opinions or points concerning this issue, please let us know!