Book Notes: “The Illusion of Choice” by Richard Shotton

Nathaniel Bastin
10 min readMay 13, 2023
The Illusion of Choice, by Richard Shotton — available here

📗 Single sentence summary

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 to win customers, retain customers and sell more.

💬 The killer quote

“Every day, people make hundreds of choices… 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.”

🙋 Recommended for

Entrepreneurs, marketers, sales people, and anyone interested in becoming better at the art of persuasion.

Notes

Caveat: These are my own notes and may exclude information that is either less relevant or already known to me.

Introduction

There are three reasons why marketers should be interested in behavioural science and psychology.

  • Relevance: businesses are in the business of behaviour change, a field to which behavioural science can be practically applied.
  • Robustness: nothing in behavioural science is taken on authority alone. Everything has to be proven experimentally.
  • Range: scientists have identified thousands of hidden drivers of human behaviour, so there is likely to be an applicable bias to almost any brief.

The book outlined 16 1/2 of the most salient behavioural biases available to marketers.

1. Habit Formation

Thinking is energy intensive, so humans ration it.

43% of our behaviour is habitual. Given this, marketers need to understand how to create and break habits.

Practical applications:

  1. Utilise the “Fresh Start Effect” by targeting messaging when existing habits are weakened which is usually at the beginning of a new time period (week, month, term, season, etc). Be sure to label the fresh start — i.e. “beginning of spring” — accordingly.
  2. Bridge the…

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Nathaniel Bastin

Full Stack Brand Builder | Published in “The Startup”, “Better Marketing” & “Entrepreneur’s Handbook” | x.com/NB_Branding