Why Fear is Contagious

Fear is contagious

Why do we wriggle with fear based on someone else’s assessment? Why do we care so much about so-called experts’ opinions on what to fear (and when and where to fear it)?

In discussion of newsworthy events , it is common to hear borrowed phrases. ‘Did you know the new president will have his hands on the nuclear codes?’ was a commonly held fear circulating the internet in the recent American presidential election. But why did so many people accept this fear? All former US presidents (post-development of nuclear arms) had or held this same power.

What experts were implicitly arguing was that the president-elect had a different sensibility that somehow made him more dangerous; he could take us a step closer than someone like JFK did to nuclear armageddon.

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Overcome Your Cognitive Biases: Expert Analysis of ‘Super Forecasting’

Read and written by Erik van Mechelen

Wake up to your cognitive biases and you will see more

There are many ways to learn about your cognitive biases. You might start by reading Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, or the scientific paper he wrote in 1974 with his friend and colleague Amos Tversky, Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases’, where the pair shared their observations and experiments across a number of biases humans all share.

Judgment under uncertainty.

You could also notice these biases in action.

Humans are goal-oriented. We develop an aim. In Octalysis speak, this is our Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment putting a fire under us, sparking us into motion. (Other Core Drives of Octalysis will play into our emotions, too, of course.)

But our belief in how successful we will be in achieving our goal comes  down to a matter of prediction under uncertainty. Here enter several key biases, among them recency bias, overconfidence, and what Philip E. Tetlock calls ‘tip of the nose thinking.’

Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner have written about a unique way to practice getting over our cognitive biases in prediction, through Super Forecasting. In their story about a small group of super forecasters who defeated IARPAs own government-backed researchers in an extended game of geopolitical forecasting, the authors provide an architect’s blueprint for starting one’s own journey of forecasting. Because life is full of prediction. And wouldn’t it be better if you could improve your ability to do so?

As Kahneman said, what you see is all there is.

Wake up. Try to see more.

Here’s a bonus cognitive bias. (Many more to follow as we go through the book, Super Forecasting.)

Your eyes follow the symbols in this sentence. You can’t help making meaning out of them. Why are you trying to make meaning out of them? This sentence is just a pattern of symbols.

Step back even more. What are you bringing to this reading. Why are you so eager for answers?

Stay tuned for chapter by chapter analysis of ‘Super Forecasting’ by Philip E Tetlock and Gardner.

This and other expert analysis on the top research in psychology and behavior can be found at OctalysisPrime.com

How FITology Used Running to Create an Alternate Reality Adventure

How can you engage your employees to a common Corporate Social Responsibility cause – in a fun and healthy fashion? Here’s how FITology created an alternate reality game to help an organization raise funds for charitable cause.

Running is the new craze

Running is the new craze today. Nearly every 35 – 45 year old white collar employee who wants to get started on her / his fitness journey starts by running. In most of the metropolitan cities around the world short and long runs are organized every fortnight or month. There are communities, organizations and associations which run together. Raising money for charitable causes via long-distance races has become a fairly common, BIG thing.

We wanted to work with this opportunity. We wanted to raise as much charity possible from a group of employees working for a multinational company who live and work all over the world. And we wanted to do it on the backdrop of a Marathon. The question was how do we design a gameful experience to motivate these multicultural, global employees.

We listed our limitations first – why might people not want to donate –

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Substituting a Hard Question for an Easier One: Daniel Kahneman’s ‘Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow’

This article is written by Erik van Mechelen in “conversation” with Yu-kai Chou and Daniel Kahneman. 

Substituting for Easier Questions

Do you like Yu-kai’s glasses? You might substitute an easier question, “Do I like Yu-kai?” then quickly answer “Yes I like your glasses” and move on with your day.

In the introduction to Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow, Kahneman describes the process by which we trade hard questions for cognitively easier ones, a common behavioral and cognitive process.

On page 12, Kahneman describes a Chief Investment Officer invests tens of millions of dollars in Ford, because he goes to an automotive show, and is was impressed with the cars. “He likes the cars, he likes the company, and he likes the idea of owning its stock. From what we know about the accuracy of stock picking, it is reasonable to believe that he did not know what he was doing” because the one question should be “Is the stock currently underpriced.”

But this is where Yu-kai disagrees:

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7 Types of Leaders based on Vision, Execution, and Empathy

This article is written by Erik van Mechelen, based on the Octalysis framework by Yu-kai Chou and lessons from Octalysis Prime, a mentorship journey with Yu-kai Chou.

So you want to be an effective leader. Maybe even a great one. It is a good thought, a great feeling.

As a leader, you have the chance to inspire, direct, and support people to team and individual accomplishments, to make society and the world better through those people.

These statements might feel to you too grandiose. But we know from Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling, that having a Why will drive you to become a stronger leader.

This article will briefly touch on how to learn and train yourself to be an OP leader, the convergence of a leader with Vision, Execution, and Empathy.

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June week 3 Gamification Examples from an Octalysis Lens

Every week in the Octalysis Prime Slack group, members share gamification examples they find in the wild.

These are only a snapshot of what we’ve discovered this week. As always, from the lens of Octalysis and the 8 Core Drives.

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Tulips, Truffles, Diamonds, and Speakeasies: How to Get Scarcity Right (and How to Get it Wrong)


This article was written by contributing writer Erik van Mechelen

Scarcity Done Right (and Wrong)

What do tulips, Truffles, Diamonds, and Speakeasies have in common? To me, they all involve scarcity (or have in the past, in the case of tulips).

We know Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience is a Left Brain Black Hat motivator. Too much of it in a design can lead to burn out.

But at the right quantities, it can help drive desired behavior. Yu-kai has talked about how he used scarcity for productivity on his book and we’ve written about why year-end goals are more interesting than New Year’s resolutions. These examples emphasized how scarcity and impatience could amplify an experience and lead to Desired Actions and Win-States.

Scarcity is good IF you get a payoff.

Sometimes, I wonder if scarcity can change its face and blink into the White Hat region. I want to be considered the best fantasy writer in the decade from 2020 to 2030. There can only be one best writer, so this position is scarce indeed. However, in Octalysis, this is positioned more so under Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment than in scarcity. However, like my mom used to tell me when girlfriends would dump me: “Sometimes it’s what you can’t have that drives you, Erik.” This dual feeling of knowing it’s really unlikely to happen but believing I can get there, to me, blends scarcity with accomplishment.

What if someone knows scarcity is a thing and doesn’t like that you use it? What response might they have?

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