How does luxury “framing” impact decision making?

Are people who travel in town cars and on corporate jets different—on a psychological level—from you and me? Does the availability of luxury goods “prime” individuals to be less concerned about or considerate toward others? The answer from new research seems to be yes.

It’s an interesting question with relevance for us in healthcare.  Does the environment in which we work and make decisions impact our decisions?  Is that true for day-to-day work?  For conferences?  For delivery of care?

In general, I believe most of us that work in healthcare are passionate about improving outcomes.  We want to understand how people make decisions.  We want to understand why things happen.  This isn’t just a job.  Given that, these types of studies are important as we think about healthcare communications.  What types of images should we use in our print media, web, and e-mail?

It also makes me wonder about verbal queues or sonic branding.  Can certain words or noises make us more or less likely to make choices that are in the best interest of the group.  For example, if we framed decisions as savings money which would be provided to a charity would more people respond to take that action (e.g., moving to a generic drug) than if we framed it as saving money for the company and therefore allowing more earnings-per-share (EPS). 

“people who were made to think about luxury prior to a decision-making task have a higher tendency to endorse self-interested decisions that might potentially harm others.” (HBS professor Roy Y.J. Chua on what they found in their research)

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