By Dr. Andrew Manikas

Ori Brafman is a business expert, and his brother Rom Brafman is a psychologist.  Together they tell of research into the psychology of why business people are swayed into making certain decisions.  The book is a quick read and is not scientific, but rather food for thought – especially for managers.

The book gives examples of how we assign attribution; we are swayed to think a more expensive thing is necessarily better.  We assign value to a person or object based on its surroundings.  Translation, we cannot help but lower our impression of an employee or job candidate based upon either how they appear (sloppily dressed), or what prior information has been given to us.  Two studies noted are; 1) a military situation where random candidate records indicated the solider has leadership potential or was less motivated.  Those soldiers who were said to be leaders, came out as the top soldiers at the end of training.  Clearly the commanding officers treated them differently and turned people into the thing that managers thought they should be. Do we turn potentially good employees into less motivated ones by expecting little of them?  2) the second study demonstrated that men shown fake photos of women rated the more attractive ones as being more personable and outgoing based on a voice only call. Do we find ourselves liking better looking employees more than their work calls for?

A great lesson for managers about not surrounding themselves with yes-men was given in a study where multiple actors clearly agreed on the wrong answer leaving the one actual participant to change their mind 97% of the time. The study was matching line lengths where it was obvious which two matched, so it was a good example of someone with the right answer not feeling they should say anything. Is this good for business? An extension was that by having one other person in the group who said another wrong answer, but still differed from the majority, was enough to allow the actual participant to say their correct answer.  Having a “devil’s advocate” in meetings can often lead to superior outcomes.

The book covers medical diagnoses bias by doctors, airline pilot misjudgements and process adjustments, the Gators football team, and even presidential decisions that were swayed by different factors. This book is a quick and enlightening read. I hope I have “swayed” you to read it!