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The Illusion of Choice

16 ½ psychological biases that influence what we buy

Harriman House

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ISBN10: 0857199749
ISBN13: 9780857199744


216 Pages



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The compelling new book by Richard Shotton, author of The Choice Factory.

Every day, people make hundreds of choices.

Many of these are commercial: What shampoo to pick? How much to spend on a bottle of wine? Whether to renew a subscription?

These choices might appear to be freely made, but psychologists have shown that subtle changes in the way products are positioned, promoted and marketed can radically alter how customers behave.

The Illusion of Choice identifies the 16½ most important psychological biases that everyone in business needs to be aware of today—and shows how any business can take advantage of these quirks to win customers, retain customers and sell more.

Richard Shotton, author of the acclaimed The Choice Factory, draws on academic research, previous ad campaigns and his own original field studies to create a fascinating and highly practical guide that focuses on the point where marketing meets the mind of the customer.

You’ll learn to take advantage of the peak end rule, the power of precision, the wisdom of wit—and much, much more.

You simply cannot afford to miss The Illusion of Choice.


Praise for The Illusion of Choice

“No one should be allowed near a layout pad or a keyboard until they have read this book. It is an antidote to the tediously direct and transactional nature of much of modern marketing.”—Rory Sutherland, author of Alchemy, vice-chairman of Ogilvy

“This book will make you better at your job. If you’re trying to get your head around behavioral science, or how to apply it, look no further—Shotton has done all the hard work for you. Keep a copy within arm’s
reach—you’ll be coming back to it time and again.”—Jonah Berger, marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and internationally bestselling author of Contagious

“People behave in surprising ways, often driven by cognitive biases. The Illusion of Choice is a straightforward and practical guide to these biases and how to apply them. An essential read for every marketing professional.”—Matthew Syed, Olympian and author of Black Box Thinking

“Some books are designed to be impressive, written in complicated jargon. This book is designed to be useful, surprising, and practical, which is why it’s written in plain English. Those other books look good on the bookshelf or behind your head on Zoom calls. This book you’ll actually use.”—Dave Trott, creative director, columnist at Campaign and multiple agency founder

“Richard’s approach to the world and to consumers is both radically different and incredibly scientific. Marketing is usually more about magic than science, but Richard shows us where to find the science and how to apply it to improve every element of our business. His first book, The Choice Factory, is one of my all-time favorites, and The Illusion of Choice is just as good. If you really want to understand your customers then this book is a must.”—James Watt, founder of Britain’s largest craft brewery, BrewDog

The Illusion of Choice explains lesser-known research in an easy-to-read manner to give consumers and businesses insights into how products persuade.”—Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

The Illusion of Choice is provocative and practical. Shotton utilizes the best of behavioral science to demonstrate surprising ways you can improve your business.”—Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, New York Times bestselling author of Everybody Lies

“A short guide to applying behavioral economics to marketing, this book is both fun and useful. A great little bag of tricks!”—Les Binet, group head of effectiveness, Adam&eveDDB

“I learned a ton through reading this book and enjoyed myself enormously in the process. Compelling, robust and eminently practical, The Illusion of Choice is a powerful guide to the psychological dynamics shaping behaviors in a complex world.”—Nathalie Nahai, author of Webs of Influence

“People talk about the ‘difficult second album syndrome’. Not here. Richard’s done it again.”—Phil Barden, author of Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy

“Richard has written a smart, enjoyable and extremely practical book around the unconscious biases and motivations which guide our everyday decisions in business and beyond. Told through a clever ‘day in the life’ device, academic experiments and real-world stories are shared, which draw the reader in enabling real insight and understanding. I would not hesitate to recommend The Illusion of Choice to anyone who wants to understand human behavior and then apply that to business decisions. This is a book that would be equally useful for a global CEO or CMO or a bootstrapping start-up or scale-up leadership team.”—Amelia Torode, former CSO of TBWA and founder of the Fawnbrake Collective

“I love a good behavioral science book, and this is a really good one. It is accessible, practical and properly sourced so that you can have confidence in what you are reading.”Daniel Finkelstein, member of House of Lords and former executive editor at The Times