Decoy Effect

Twain perhaps captured the "art" of statistics better than any critic before or since, but how many psychologists did he know? Okay, that was harsh - but hear me out.

CBS primetime last week introduced me to a psych concept known as "decoy effect", whereby introducing a third option to a decision matrix can favor one of the other two choices. A quick internet search and I was reading this article - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/01/AR2007040100973.html -
from last year in the Washington Post, that discussed ways for Obama and Clinton to parry the presence of Edwards to their benefit - individually - and it also included this throwaway line on Nader:

"Many people lavished hate on Ralph Nader for presumably taking votes away from the Democratic front-runner in the 2000 presidential election," said Scott Highhouse, who has studied the decoy effect at Bowling Green State University. "Research on the decoy effect suggests that Nader's presence, rather than taking votes away, probably increased the share of votes for the candidate he most resembled."

Intriguing concept. Ralph Nader actually increased voter support for Al Gore in the 2000 election. I certainly never looked at the world like that before, so I am going to spend some time mulling this one over.

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1 comment:

Mikey said...

What's Bob Barr doing for McCain?