Re-framing human cognition - one nudge at a time

What is Occam's nudge about ? About human cognition and thinking and how to shape it...

For long I’ve been fascinated by two entirely different things - investing (in the public markets) and digital advertising. Over a period of time, I realized there are multiple similarities and a large number of the building blocks of both of these are similar, if not same. Redacting both these to a singular equation would mean :

  • Cognition x Perception/Awareness x Decision x Action

As with investing, cognition is probably the toughest and the most ambiguous.

What do you pick up in a crowd of information/noise ?

  • How much of it is picking up available information vs information that is dug out proactively ?

  • What causes people to perceive some things better than others in a crowd of noise and information ?

  • What are the dimensions along which we perceive information/noise - colours, numbers, patterns, nudges, videos ?

And what nudges along what lines of sensory perceptions could significantly enhance the cognition of the information. For eg., a CEO coming on air on CNBC in the market has a near perfect correlation to ensuring a cognition at least amongst the investing community (what they do with the information of course is a different matter - the longer term ones may ignore it as noise, the intra-day ones use the volatility to their advantage).

So with digital advertising :

- Where your message is seen (the medium) ?

- context of the surroundings in which he/she sees the message - how trustworthy and reliable is the context ?

- Familiarity and fluency of the user with the context

- Past track record - pedigree, past track record of reliability and consistency

One of the biggest challenges that’s common to both is:

- imperceptible filtration: (sub-conscious rules that are used to filter out “noise” - which is unique to each individual)

- Selective cognition : out of the stuff that we choose to be cognitive about, what registers, why and how ?

- Immediate consideration : Once we register what we can, what do we do about it ?

- Forward looking action : And once we decide what we want to do, what do we actually do ?

Seems abstract but in a world of ever increasing noise, the key to impacting someone’s mind is to understand their cognition, filtration processes and consideration and thereafter, action. when you juxtapose it with Richard Thaler’s nudge and how playing to/opposite of our biases, we will know how to tackle them. Long story short, understanding cognition and our biases which is a fringe science now will soon enough become mainstream as the amount of data/noise increase and two way interactions with machines (AI,IOT) become a reality.

In the first few posts, I plan to post a few observations about my observations on common problems (that are un-commonly observed) with digital media and thereafter, look at how they can be solved. I am truly excited - because its a journey that has no finite answers and the current state is so ambiguous that iterative improvements are the only way forward !