Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rule of thirds

I have a theory about lists of options given in everyday life. When someone gives such list, which for whatever reason usually contains three elements, their preference is usually for the third option, even if they profess indifference.

For example. "Oh, I don't know honey, we could clean the house, sit and share our feelings, or go out for ice cream."

This strategy is effective because it takes advantage of the recency effect, plus giving other options up front makes the list-giver seem extra reasonable.

What do you think?


Knumb said...

Oh boy,

Am I going to use this on Missus Knumbknuts, Jedi-mind-trick style.

"Hey hon, this Saturday, should I:
- Clean the house?
- Pay the bills
/hand wave, obi-wan style...
- Or go hang gliding?"

/comon comon recency...
//pesky Santa Anas are making the point moot.

Dan Myers said...

Maybe it's related to the tendency that constructs jokes with three parts. 3 guys walk into a bar, the first says X, the second says Y, and third says PUNCH LINE! We've been conditions to expect something special on the third one and so when we present options, we're going to put our favorite in the special spot!

brewright said...

I don't know if it has power, other than indicating preferences. Be nice if it did.

There is something about "3"s in jokes...