Reference bias: what does “good” look like?

A recent study by Heckman & Kautz ranked nations according to their self-reported conscientiousness. They then cross referenced the average number of hours a worker in that country actually works each year (see below).

National rank in conscientiousness vs. average number of hours worked annually

Reference bias_Heckman & KautzOverall there is little correlation between how conscientious people in each country think they are, and the reality of how much they work. As the authors state: “The results are surprising. South Korea ranks second to last in terms of conscientiousness but first in the number of hours worked.” France on the other hand put in 40% fewer hours each year than the South Koreans yet rate themselves as far more conscientious. Thanks to the Stirling Behavioural Science Blog sharing the paper.

It’s a reminder that measuring abstract concepts in surveys can be a challenge. If participants have to interpret what a concept like ‘conscientious’ ‘happy’ or ‘lazy’ means they will all reference different norms. This “reference bias” makes comparisons misleading.

What’s needed is a common frame of reference. Academics use “vignettes” (short written descriptions) to help anchor responses and give more standardisation across cultures. There is a great list of these here for anyone interested. “Ken” for example, is the anchor point of 5/5 happiness on a happiness scale – and sounds like great company:

“Ken loves life and is happy all the time. He never worries or gets upset about anything and deals with things as they come.”

Whilst commercial constraints are going to prevent the average market researcher developing vignettes for every survey, when you’re measuring abstract notions they reduce subjectivity. I’m resolved to giving them a go.


Posted in Marketing Research, Methods | Tagged | Leave a comment

Are we all anthropologists now?

Anthropology – the study of humanity using observational techniques – is an inspirational, thought-provoking subject for researchers. February’s Radio 4 series “From Savage to Self” was a good primer on its origins and history. Thanks to Dr Nick Southgate for recommending it.

I learned most from the episode which focussed on commercial anthropology. It argued that practices taken from anthropology have seeped into everyday life – hence the title We are all anthropologists now. Quite a bold claim when you think about it.

Host Dr Farrah Jarral interviewed ReD Associates’ Claire Straty after a long day’s fieldwork.

As she described her work, Straty described the all too familiar gap between what participants say and what they do, illustrating the role of ethnography. Her purpose as a commercial ethnographer?

“We seek to find asymmetries. Between how a client sees the world and the lived realities of the people that these companies serve. There usually is a big gap between those two things and it is my job to go and find what that asymmetry is.”

Jarral pressed her on the rigour of her practice. Straty’s typical fieldwork period is 2 consecutive days, which is slightly more practical than the 12-15 months required for typical PhD thesis. Whilst narrower in its focus, in her view applied ethnography is no less valid: she describes it as more productive and more gratifying than academic practice.

There’s a theme here. Read any academic commentary on ethnography and it soon becomes apparent that there is hostility to commercial market researchers claiming to use ethnographic methods. Professor Danny Miller from UCL is clear: there are no shortcuts to understanding. You should enter your study with no hypotheses so not to bias your observations. You understand the community you are embedded with holistically, and this generates understanding of your topic of interest.

Whilst no comparison can be made to being embedded within a community for a year or so, any market researcher used to conducting both qualitative and ethnographic methods will know the nuanced understanding that spending extended periods of time with participants brings. Even spending a day with a participant – about five times the length of a focus group – gives much more than five times as much depth. For me the benchmark therefore isn’t academic ethnography but “in and out” techniques typical of market research which used in isolation provide limited context or immersion.

The tension between the academic and commercial world is unlikely to recede soon. We might find academia overly rigid, but we should understand their objections and use the word ethnography with respect.

For anyone interested in what academic anthropology can achieve, a team from UCL have just published ‘Why We Post’ – a global research project looking into the cultural norms of social media usage across nine countries. The findings are a challenge to the notion that people use technology in the same way – norms seem to differ wildly within and between countries. UCL have done a fantastic job in making their work accessible, with a great website compete with video, downloadable ebooks and lay summaries. Kudos to them.

Figure: Social media platforms used by English school pupils, from the ‘How the world changed’ ebook published for the ‘Why We Post’ research project


Posted in Ethnography, Marketing Research, Methods, Qualitative research | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A lament for the Millennials

Storming victory … a shot by Sony world photography awards L'Iris d'Or winner Mitch Dobrowner.

Photo credit: Mitch Dobrowner

The world Millennials inherited from their baby boomer parents is big on self-actualisation. You get to choose your identity in 21st century Britain.

This freedom is paralysing. When there’s a hundred paths to choose from it’s harder to find your way. And when you’ve made your choice you don’t always feel satisfied.

That is the millennial’s paradox.

No previous generation has been presented with so many choices.

No previous generation has had such elevated expectations.

No previous generation has lived through an internet age redefining work and social interaction.

There are many contributing factors.

Individualism won 

Millennials (18-30s) are the children of Thatcher and Blair. They were brought up being told how special they were by parents and advertisers. The drip-drip reinforcement of “this is your moment” “ready when you are” have it your way” “you’re worth it” has led some to claim we are facing a narcissism epidemic.

Collective identities embraced by previous generations – left/right binaries for example – don’t feel right. Paul Mason talks about how politics is more about the network (occupy, single issue campaigning) than the hierarchy (membership of a political party). Party politics feels compromised in an era where you support a mixed bag of issues based on your individual identity – not your class identity.

Graduating into the no pay economy

Remember the “milk round”? The idea that graduates were a prized asset, short on supply & courted by employers seems absurd in 2015. We are in the age of internships and the “no pay economy”. People who grew up being told they could be anything living in a society with decreasing social mobility.

Oversupply has led to academic inflation: a degree secured me a job. The typical graduate I interview has a Masters & a portfolio of relevant work experience. Broken career trajectories are common. I’ll leave the commentary on house prices & pension provision to others. ‘Enjoy the now’ is a rational response.

Living in an era of mass surveillance  

Private mistakes are public in the era of the smartphone: I would argue this changes adolescence. Young people are self-censoring their behaviour as they don’t want to be made foolish in retrospect. Statistics show youthful indiscretion peaked a few years back (undoubtedly caused by a range of factors, but still). Who knows how we’ll look back on our social media age. An experiment in mass surveillance about which we’re curiously relaxed?

An onus on appearance

Social media means you’re always ‘on show.’ This makes people far more aware of their appearance.

This influence is gendered.

Millennials live in a world which offers fewer roles for men. Knowledge economy jobs have replaced traditional roles. For a subsection of our society, hyper masculinity is the response. Lost boys reasserting their identity. Walk down a high street on a Friday night in Bangor, Durham or Gloucester and you’re hemmed in by a uniform individuality of bronzed-biceps and diamond-shaped backs.

A lot has been written about female beauty expectations, their origins & pernicious influence. 1 in 9 British women are on antidepressants right now. Whilst this is multi-factorial I’d argue it’s related.

Technology separates as much as it brings together

When a teenager wanted to ask someone out 20 years ago they phoned a landline, then spoke to a parent who passed over the phone. There were two lots of small talk to get through. It was character building.

This is all rather quaint in a Snapchat-WhatsApp world. Romance is mediated now, emboldened. There’s anecdotal evidence phone calls are avoided in lieu of texting: “Phone calls suck and they give me anxiety” – just about sums it up.

A two-dimensional, controlled, asynchronous conversation is easier, less nuanced and more controllable. It’s not a good training ground for real life in all its unpredictability. It’s also not conducive to kindness, as people forget “the text bubble on their phone is a real person.” Consent workshops organised for Freshers at our universities in 2015 are emblematic of what’s changed.

The web can make things too easy 

You can download a musical taste in a minute. You can have a new wardrobe delivered to go with it the same day. The same tasks would have taken weeks in ’95, and months, years even in ’75.

This matters. Psychologist Robert Bjork’s concept of desirable difficulty is an interesting analogy:

“…when teachers try to facilitate learning by making it as easy as possible, this may increase the immediately observable short-term performance, but it decreases the more important long-term retention. In short, we often seek to eliminate difficulties in learning to our own detriment.”

Ease can rob you of motivation, make you listless. The pain of the search adds to the pleasure of the reward.

So what?

Economic, political, technological, social and psychological factors are combing to create a historically unique time to become an adult. It isn’t all bad. But we should acknowledge the challenges.

Posted in Consumer Psychology, Demographic change, Social Media, Technology | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Retail in Japan: a visitor’s impression

I’m just back from Japan. One of the first things to hit me was how different the shops were. Being a sad case I took a few snaps to share with the team. Here’s my tourist with a smartphone view on Japanese retail.

Limited space: crowded floor to ceiling fixtures and loads of POS in electricals and chemists, and telescoping shelves in the 7-11 chiller.

Lack of space

Crammed fixtures in electricals and chemists, extendable shelves at the 7-11

Will it vend? It must vend! Vending machines abound. Beer, cigarettes, drinks, newspapers… How about champagne and fruit? You can even pay with your Oyster card in the station.

Vending champagne - why not? Pics courtesy of Inside Japan Tours

Vending champagne – why not? Pics courtesy of Inside Japan Tours

Different norms on ranges: This is an Island nation with a parallel development cycle for products (Galapagos Syndrome) – including 15 varieties of Kit Kats and a lemon variant of Orangina, Lemongina.

The ones that stood out for me were at convenience store Lawson:

  • The on-the-go hot drinks fixture with too many coffee cans to count;
  • The standalone energy drinks / vitamin drinks fixture;
  • All the clothing you’d ever need if you had just pulled an all-nighter and needed to stay in the office (vest, shirt, underwear, tie)
Hot drinks and energy / vitamin drinks fixtures at Lawson Hakone

Hot drinks and energy / vitamin drinks fixtures at Lawson Hakone

 Value retailing is prevalent here too: The 100 yen store (c50p) and the 300 yen store (c£1.50). Lots of Halloween promotions here – their masks and facepaints looked pretty awesome. Daiso is a good example and had neat, well stocked shelves – it didn’t feel like a jumble sale.

Presentation / attention to detail: I’d anticipated beautiful bento boxes arranged with military precision. Fruit was the only food that was expensive. This market stall presented in Tokyo had individually shrink wrapped items, and I stumbled across a 25 quid presentation box in a department store (a “branded fruit gift” I was told).


Market stall, fruit presentation box and sushi bento boxes

Some packaging surprises: sake in juice boxes, cartons, glass cans, bottles

Sake packaging 4 ways

Sake packaging 4 ways

Surprisingly there was little digtal POS: staff ratios seemed better than UK stores

Digital POS

My favourite shop? Don Quijote, an Aladdin’s Cave discounter selling everything from groceries to electricals to clothes. Open 24/7 in Shinjuku.

Don Quijote Asakusa

Posted in Customer Experience, Retail | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Oasis vs. Prudential: two very different honesty plays

The current Oasis campaign made me smile, pull over and take a photo.

Oasis "advertising doesn't work on you"

Oasis “advertising doesn’t work on you” execution

The battle for consumer attention is unrelenting. It’s increasingly hard to cut through no matter what your medium. The Millennials Oasis are trying to influence are more than likely glued to their smartphones not inspecting the new 6 sheet at the bus stop.

It’s impactful and cheeky. It’ll be at the back of my mind the next time I’m at the drinks chiller. They’re like a trusted peer sharing a secret, inculcating warmth or reciprocity.

But even in our post-modern, media-savvy era it’s pretty bold. Where do Oasis go from here? Creative options may be somewhat constrained in future when you’ve taken honesty to its logical extent. That’s not to mention the consistency issue. The sugar content of soft drinks is a hot topic for consumers and campaigners like Jamie Oliver: honesty might prove a difficult policy to maintain.

Prudential’s US TV campaign was brought to my attention this week by the excellent Freakonomics podcast. They too are making an adult-to-adult honesty play. This time it’s about facing up to life’s realities: we’ll live longer than we expect, and have less saved than we need. So far so boring.

Two elevating factors are:

Prudential/Droga 5: using visual metaphors to communicate intangible (boring) life realities

Prudential/Droga 5: using visual metaphors to communicate intangible (boring) life realities

It is somewhat surprising state of affairs: as Stephen Dubner says it is almost “advertising as public service announcement.” This is a corporation taking learnings from behavioural science about how we make decisions – like present tense bias – and making us engage with them to encourage us not to limit our long-term happiness. This is truth-telling and we feel like trusting them after seeing the ads. They’re invoking at least 3 of Cialdini’s 6 principles of influence here.

My question is: is this advertising the category, the brand or the product? I’d love to see results on the campaign’s effectiveness. If I was a few years older it might trigger investigation. But would it trigger investigation with Prudential?

In summary: two honesty plays, two audiences and two very different communication goals.

Posted in Behavioural Economics, Branding, Consumer Psychology, Decision Science, Demographic change, Marketing, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Event: Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) Research Forum, University of Leeds, Friday 10 July

I popped up to Leeds Uni last week to attend the LIDA research forum. This was part launch event (showing off their purpose-built research facility, complete with “safe data room” and training suite) and networking event (an opportunity for the Big Data community to collaborate).

LIDA is a multimillion pound initiative to “connect academic research from all disciplines with external partners in business, government and the third sector; matching the world class capabilities of University research with the needs and opportunities of local organisations.” Its success relies on interdisciplinary working: blending different backgrounds, datasets and worldviews to create intellectual synergies that might otherwise go unharvested.

Infographic: the Social Geography of Supermarket Grocery Purchasing in Leeds (Consumer Data Research Centre)



And whilst there were a number of interesting speakers, it was Professor Andrew Morris’ talk on Data intensive biomedical and health research which captured my imagination. An engaging presenter, he focussed on tangible outcomes resulting from big data in healthcare scenarios – turning what could have been a rather dry topic into an enjoyable half hour.

The challenge for healthcare

  • Bill Gates is quoted as saying Healthcare is the last major industry not to be transformed by the information age. Healthcare operates at just 60% efficiency according to McKinsey.
  • The ageing population creates a chronic disease challenge. Most elderly people have multiple illnesses (multimorbidity) but healthcare has a single disease focus. The patients he sees in his diabetes clinic on a Friday more often than not have just seen other consultants for example in ophthalmology and cardiology earlier in the week. Sequential and siloed care.
  • Austerity means “double jeopardy” in the NHS: the need to deliver better quality care at reduced cost.

The opportunity

  • It takes around 17 years for a biological discovery to be translated through clinical trials & innovation into great care. Using data can accelerate this process. The two gaps in translation are embracing technology for machine learning and data analysis.
  • He talked about the first digital revolution being about connectivity. America ‘won’ this – the fact most of us have used Google, Facebook or Apple in the past hour is testament to this.
  • The second revolution concerns data analytics: how we use data in real time across public services to enhance peoples’ lives & drive economic benefit. The UK is uniquely well placed to ‘win’ this because of our strengths in cross-disciplinary working. Interdisciplinarity (don’t you love that word?) relies on having organisations the right size – “being small enough to get the right people in one room” – easily possible in commissioning areas like Scotland or Yorkshire.

Morris gave a couple of great examples from NHS Scotland:

  • Using our unique NHS number to link data & follow the journey of care. Bringing together emergency care records, primary care records and a nationwide radiology archive to create a longitudinal serial database. The combined power of the database gives real time information to all hospitals (patients/prescribing/digital imaging). The outcome? Clinicians make better decisions. A diabetes specialist, his ambition is to reduce the number of amputations and eradicate blindness as a result of diabetes in Scotland before he retires.
  • Harnessing data-rich imaging records (e.g. CT scans). They have moved to a single supplier for scanners, and these are calibrated to produce a single data record across multiple sites. The outcome? 1 in 4 diagnoses are improved for patients presenting at hospital with heart pain.

He ended on an inspiring note: Moore’s law means that computing power will only improve. In 2003 it took 300 scientists 15 years and $3 billion to map one genome. In 2015 it takes 3 scientists a single day and $1000. Real-time, adaptive personalised medicine is now a less distant prospect.

So much of the discussion around big data is – let’s face it – dry, intangible and navel gazing. Morris’ presentation certainly wasn’t, and was the highlight of the day.


Posted in Big data, Events, Strategy | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Summer reading

Summer is here: the work-related reading in my suitcase alongside the latest Jack Reacher barnstormer is…


Don’t make me think: a common sense guide to web usability by Steve Krug

An idiot’s guide to web usability. It’s full of practical advice and written with in an engaging style with lots of visual examples. Although this edition was published in 2005 the fundamental principles still apply. The advice on having a clear visual hierarchy was immediately useful to me advising clients on their online display advertising and homepage takeover strategies. You can pick up a second-hand copy for a pound on Amazon. Give it a go: I can see it being an invaluable library resource for our team.

The age of earthquakes: a guide to the extreme present by Douglas Coupland, Shumon Basar and Hans Ulrich Obrist

This one’s a bit left field. Combining the zeitgeist-capturing brainpower of Coupland (Author of Generation X) with the skills of curator Obrist and editor Basar it’s as much an experiment in print publishing as a handbook for the digital age.

aoeTheir thesis is that the internet has changed us: how we absorb information and lay down the long-term memories which are the essence of our selves, our identities. It has also changed our world: with much of daily human activity taken up creating and exchanging information. Unintended consequences abound – our changing perceptions of time and how patient we feel; the structure of the economy; even the structure of the planet as ice caps begin to melt as a result of significant additional energy consumption.

Despite being a bit of a mind-melter you can read it in an hour. Marshall McLuhan would have loved its ideas and buzzwords. Aclassification, anyone?

Posted in Books, Consumer Psychology, Media, UX | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What happens to today’s opinions tomorrow?

Byron Sharp’s How Brands Grow is the only marketing text I refer to on a regular basis. It’s well written and pulls no punches. His conclusions are based on single source datasets tracking attitudes and purchasing over time, giving them rigor and power.

The evidence he presents on the unstable nature of attitudes is particularly useful (p102). Brand imagery statements we all know and love (e.g. “Is a brand a trust” “Offers VFM” “Tastes nice” etc) often show broadly stable agreement over time. Sharp’s insight is that when you ask the same people the same question over time their answers are often different. The repeat rate for attitudes is around 50%. So for example if 45% agree brand x tastes nice in Q1, and 45% agree in Q2, evidence from single source datasets show that half the people “voting” for brand x have changed their minds since being asked previously.

stick men.jpgSharp talks about the “fickle, probabilistic nature of beliefs” which are relative, not absolute. People tend to buy from a repertoire of brands, and our beliefs are dependent both on our power of recall and the situation. As he puts it “I might choose Avis 60% of the time but that doesn’t mean that sometimes I won’t choose Hertz even two or three times in a row…” There’s a range of other published evidence showing similar findings (e.g. here and here).

As a market researcher you miss this meta-level reflection. Ad hoc work takes us from project to project, where we burrow into hypotheses then move on. Tracking tends to use fresh samples for each wave. Client work is confidential.

As an industry we suffer from an acknowledged, accepted, scientific body of knowledge upon which to base much of our work. Ask two people how advertising works and likely you’ll get two different answers. Econometrics or agency ad effectiveness models re-create a version of reality, not reality itself. From time to time it’s hard not to feel like William Gull as described by Adam Curtis “…a mad figure seeking to impose narrow order on a fluid world that he can only partially understand.”

I take two implications from the evidence on attitude repeat rates.

Firstly, to ground our research findings within an appropriate context. Peer influence on choice (e.g. what others are doing) and convenience (e.g. location, ease of buying) are good places to start.

Secondly, it’s a reminder not be over reliant on brand imagery batteries when diagnosing brand health. Awareness and purchase behaviour are as worthy diagnostics.

Posted in Books, Decision Science, Market research, Methods | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The mail men: TMc research launches new Royal Mail advertising campaign

If you are on the tube this week look out for a new campaign from Royal Mail. Mail Men aims to reach media planners, buyers & advertising clients to educate them about the unique role of mail as part of the marketing mix.

What’s different about it? It’s launching a research report. Biometrics, quant, qual and ethnography were combined to evidence how mail works at an emotional, not just a rational level.

“Researchers spent 18 months examining how people interact with mail in the digital age – and the results are astonishing. “

What’s exciting for us is that it showcases our work. In 2013 we conducted a controlled experiment examining how production quality affects how people respond to advertising mail (how the medium affects the message). In 2014 we put CCTV cameras in people’s homes to show how mail behaviour is very different from mail attitudes. Both projects were shortlisted for MRS Awards in the Advertising and Media category.

The website has video excerpts taken from both projects, evidencing the impact of mail in the home and mail in the heart.

Whilst I can’t claim to be objective it’s really well branded, confident campaign. We wish Royal Mail every success.

Posted in Awards, Market research, Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The end of absence: reclaiming what we’ve lost in a world of constant connection (Michael Harris)

 “We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us.”  John Culkin

End of absenceThose of us over the age of 30 can remember life before the internet. In the End of Absence Michael Harris examines the impact it has had on our lives. We are so surrounded by our devices that we don’t notice how much our behaviour has changed:

“…in this brief historical moment, this moment in between two modes of being, a very rare opportunity. For those of us who have lived both with and without the vast, crowded connectivity the Internet provides, these are the few days when we can still notice the difference between Before and After.

This is the moment. Our awareness of this singular position pops up every now and again. We catch ourselves idly reaching for our phones at the bus stop. Or we notice how, mid conversation, a fumbling friend dives into the perfect recall of Google.

I think that within the mess of changes we’re experiencing, there’s a single difference that we feel most keenly; and it’s also the difference that future generations will find hardest to grasp. That is the end of absence— the loss of lack. The daydreaming silences in our lives are filled; the burning solitudes are extinguished.”

Harris isn’t the first person to bring the unintended consequences of technology on behaviour to our attention. Be it how humans absorb information (e.g. Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows) or how we interact with other people (e.g. Shelley Turkle’s Alone Together) there’s a wealth of authors examining technology from a critical perspective.

What struck me as different was the first-person perspective and urgent tone. It makes it a compelling read. Harris is a freelance journalist who relies – as many of us do – on tech for work and play. He is not criticising from the sidelines, but critiquing his own behaviour and examining his own mixed feelings towards his laptop and smartphone. In this way I think he is midway on the techno utopian <> neo-luddite continuum. A technorealist perhaps. He writes:

“As we embrace a technology’s gifts, we usually fail to consider what they ask from us in return—the subtle, hardly noticeable payments we make in exchange for their marvellous service.”

Harris’ conclusion is not to stop using technology, merely to be aware and to seek balance. I’m sure he won’t be last person making this argument in years to come.

There is a wealth of information in the book, but four themes stood out:

1) Technology designed to liberate can enslave. The human need to communicate, acquire knowledge and form relationships are increasingly being met online. Love, life and laughter are all too often mediated through a screen. The dopamine hit we get when receiving a text message trains us to constantly check and re-check just in case. Once habituated, the device – which represents a multitude of potential connections – can be more appealing than the person in front of us. The cliché of Pavlov’s dogs rings true.

“Dr. Gary Small, a researcher at UCLA writes that ‘once people get used to this state they tend to thrive on the perpetual connectivity. It feeds their egos and sense of self-worth, and it becomes irresistible…in the short run the stress hormones [cortisol and adrenaline] boost energy levels and augment memory, but over time they actually impair cognition, lead to depression, and alter the neural circuitry in the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex – the brain regions that control mood and thought. Chronic and prolonged techno-brain burnout can even reshape the underlying brain structure.’”

2) “Restless idleness” means our ability to concentrate is compromised. Once habituated to constant connection, many find it hard to switch off. Is “restless idleness” becoming a default state as we flit from one thing to the next? Is concentrated thought required to make a breakthrough in science, art – or your client presentation – undermined? He writes:

“Real thinking requires retreat. True contemplation is always a two part act: We go out into the world for a time, see what they’ve got, and then we find some isolated chamber where all that experience can be digested. You can never think about the crowd from its centre. You have to judge from the place of absence.”

3) Focussed, calm thinking is important because it is how we learn. It fosters the laying down of long term memory. Evidence from neuroscience shows our brains are changed by our environments (neuroplasticity). If every fact is a google away, it is easy to become a conduit rather than a receptacle for information. This leads to an “intellectual paradox — we know everything and we know nothing” a feeling of being smart and stupid at the same time (or “smupid” as Douglas Coupland calls it).

Education researcher Daisy Christodoulou extends this point in a recent Guardian article:

“Long-term memory is vast, but working memory is limited to about four to seven items and is easily overloaded. By committing facts to long-term memory, we free up precious space in our working memory to manipulate those facts and combine them with new ones.

That’s why it’s so important for pupils to learn their times tables: memorising them doesn’t stifle conceptual understanding but rather enables it. We also need a framework of facts in long-term memory to make sense of what we find on the internet; studies show that pupils frequently make errors when asked to look up unfamiliar knowledge.

Long-term memory is not a bolted-on part of the mind that we can outsource to the cloud. It is integral to all our thinking processes; researchers even suggest it may be “the seat of human intellectual skill.”

4) The rapidity of technological change means the evidence isn’t in yet. We don’t know what the effects on brains and social norms will be for young people growing up with technology. Academics don’t agree: I’m sure UVA Professor Daniel Willingham and Oxford Professor Dame Susan Greenfield would have an inspired debate on the matter.


Posted in Books, Consumer Psychology, Demographic change | Tagged , , | 5 Comments