How they made me buy things?

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“Turn your idea into a licensing Goldmine by having your idea prototype in front of a potential company in 60 Days” — A program announced. “We will guide you to achieve this”.

“ Go through some of our success stories” Many of characters in stories looked like me. Vow!! Nice innovations. Oh! They made so much money! Great! Let me join the program and try!

So, what happened here?

In daily life, when Successes are made more visible than failures, we overestimate our chances of success. Chances of success might be very minute, but we succumb to the illusion. This is called Survivorship Bias in psychology.


Next day, when I entered the theatre, I felt the crowd was less than the expected. I had a feeling that some of the tickets which were shown filled already online were not occupied.

“Oh! This book is not that interesting! Maybe It’s not meant for me. Why did I buy? Because, I saw almost 1000 reviews and 4.8-star rating” So, what’s happening?

Social Proof in Psychology — On a weekday, if so many people could take time out to watch a movie, then the movie would be good. I doubt whether I’d have booked the ticket if only two seats were booked. And the movie was bad and we came out with a headache!


I took the printer home and within few days, the cartridges were emptied. The new cartridges were costing around Rs.2500. I bought them and again they emptied soon. I had a feeling that printing at home seems to be expensive than taking prints from a local photocopying shop. But then I had already invested Rs.2500 on the printer. “No way, I’m not throwing away Rs.2500”. I kept buying cartridges for another year. One day my wife pointed out. Should this factor play a role in our decision?”We have already spent Rs.2500 whether you use the printer or not”. Then the realisation and the search. It is called “Sunk Cost Fallacy”.

“We cannot give up now…we have already invested time, money….” — Forget about sunk costs and make rational decisions.


A few years back, one of my friends invited me to a meeting in his home, which could help me to earn money. I was introduced to AMWAY products and MLM marketing. He gave me a small bag containing a collection of AMWAY products to try it in the home at no cost.

“It’s a special toothpaste. Try it tomorrow” he said to me. After a couple of days, he came to pick up the items. Once I had used the gift and got trapped….Partially consumed….I had to buy the whole collection. Ah!! Reciprocity Rule and ……he being a friend…how could I avoid him. It’s like rejecting the friend. This is the psychology principle of “LIKING” — We prefer to say yes to the requests of someone we know and like.




Why did I buy there….because the shop owner was so nice, friendly….really likeable? This is “Liking Bias” — The more we like someone, the more inclined we are to buy from that person.


I’ve bought many items on Amazon. Many times, my sales were prompted by — “Only 2 left”. When I bought Kindle paperwhite — it was “Limited time offer of Rs.2000 discount”. Next time, Kindly had the offer in another format. Scarcity Rule.


“7” I said

“Vow. Congrats Sir. If anybody says the number “7”, we have to give the Rs.250 watch for Rs.100. Congrats again”

Excited, I had bought a watch, and this happened a long time ago. “Principle of Co-incidence”.


“Why did you add these components to your policy?”

“He told me that in the case of certain accidents, you may not be able to claim cost for those items and it would be a loss.”

That sales guy has used the “Loss aversion” principle to take money from you. Loss Aversion — People have fear of losing something and they value it more than gaining.

I selected a book in Amazon for Rs.340 and about to check out. It showed me “FREE deliveries of order over Rs.499. Otherwise, delivery charges of Rs.60 are applicable. I spent another half an hour and bought another Rs.200 book. Did I waste Rs.200 for Rs.60? and 30 minutes of time? A thought lingered in my mind. “Loss Aversion”


“I’ve been using “Anti-Dandruff” shampoo for so many years, and they had given so many ads on TV. Still no result”

“Did you check the labels and what they claim”

“In the front, it is written as “Anti-Dandruff” shampoo. On the back side, it is written, protects scalp from dandruff”

“It never says that it will remove Dandruff and moreover the sentence is vague. Did you see? Watch those lines closely hereafter” This is Pricniple of “False Causality”



“No, I want 100% linen shirts. I’ve been buying 100% linen shirts for some time. Thanks”

Came back home and checked my old shirts. It’s written 80% Linen.

“Framing Effect” — Make the information feel different based on the facts the way it is projected. 98% fat-free or 2% fat?


Reason — Law of Association through repetition and persistence. Countless repetitions of brand exposure through PC makers advertisements had played the role.

References — The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli, Influence by Robert B.Caildini.

Written by

Secular Humanist, Business Growth Consultant, Design Thinker, India. Reach me at or

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