Ben Ambridge’s Most Interesting Aspects of Psychology

Ben Ambridge will be speaking at Digital Elite bout the Application of Biometric Science in June and I wanted to ask him about how his research has impacted e-commerce. He has studied and researched psychology for over 20 years and applies this to business.

Can you share with us what were the most interesting aspects of psychology that we could apply in our every day lives as consumers?

“The findings that I’ve always found most fascinating – and also most potentially relevant for us as consumers – are those which show that we don’t act rationally. Our decisions – such as which product to choose, or even whether to buy or not to buy – are not based on a rational weighing of the evidence, the costs versus the benefits. They’re influenced by things that are, in principle, irrelevant like the other options available (even ones we have no interest in), whether we’ve already invested somehow (sunk-cost effects), and even irrelevant numbers elsewhere on the page (anchoring effects). Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow is a great introduction to all of these ideas, and I also cover them in a video blog series that you can find on my Endless Gain page.


Do you think the ecommerce (and sales in general) give more credit/weight to psychology and therefore businesses design their websites differently?

Yes, I think so. Psychology has always been valued in offline sales, but I think more and more ecommerce is catching up. I mean I can’t speak for other business of course, but I know for that the ones that we’ve worked with at Endless Gain that both psychological theories and biometric measure have been absolutely crucial.


Can you expand further on what you mean by popcorn and chewing gum?

Ah well I don’t want to give the game away too much, as I’ll be talking about this at the Digital Elite Day, but this was about a study which showed that – if participants were eating popcorn or chewing gum – this completely changed their response to adverts they were watching at the same time. In what way? You’ll have to come to my talk to find out. Bring your own popcorn!

In your talk you will mention EEG signatures, what does EEG mean and how do they apply to an effective advert

EEG (Electroencephalography) literally tells you what’s going on inside a customer’s head when they view a site. It uses electrodes to measure the electrical activity from brain cells; and certain common patterns of brain-cell activity – or signatures – are associated with particular things, like a customer liking and wanting what she’s seeing, or seeing something unexpected, or even that a particular advert is likely to be memorable.

You have written some interesting books, what is the main tip you would recommend to someone wanting to publish their own book.

I’d say there are two main things you’d need. The first one – and I’d say this is equally true for newspaper articles, talks, pitches, writing songs, whatever – is that you need an angle; a hook, a gimmick even: one big idea that is interesting, original, funny or catchy. So for my last book that was “running animal experiments on humans”. It could be anything, but it has to be something. The second thing you need (for nonfiction at least- I have no idea how fiction publishing works)is help from an agent or a publisher – they tend to know what works. If you just go off and write your own thing, you’re probably going to end up with something that’s almost impossible to sell.”


How very interesting Ben ! I am inspired to write my own book, but think I am a long way off right now. Look forward to seeing you in June.

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