The two deadliest weapons of a behavioural designer

As a behavioural designer, there are just two psychological principles which you must understand: ‘automatic thinking’ and ease

As a behavioural designer, there are just two psychological principles which you must understand: ‘automatic thinking’and ‘ease’.

Automatic thinking” means that our mind always starts with impulsive judgement and then – if it’s really necessary – turns to rationalisation to justify the decision.

PowNews interviewed visitors of the household fair, who had voted for the PVV. When asked why they had voted for the PVV, they all responded: He cuts straight to the point. When the interviewer asked what they meant by that, no one had a clue. One interviewee thought hard for a moment and then said: It doesn’t really matter actually. Our rationality is nothing more than a slave that exists to justify our impulsive judgments. Wilders says it like it is, Samsom is a street fighter, Rutte is an energetic manager and so on. We don’t need to know more to decide if someone is a suitable politician or not.

The second weapon is ease”. Ease is the most underrated behavioural instrument. Advertisers always want to influence your motivations; but behavioural designers know that if you want to provoke a certain behaviour you first need to make it easier, or the undesired behaviour harder.

The most effective diet? The Jewish diet: don’t have bad food in the house. Why is obesity a big problem? The accessibility and convenience of unhealthy processed foods outweighs the costs and effort, psychically and mentally, of eating healthily. Obliging MacDonald’s to make healthy fast food will do more than any education campaign can.

What populists and lobbyists understand better than marketeers is that the seduction and exploitation of cognitive laziness will always triumph over the power of persuasion.


‘s-Gravenhekje 1a
1011TG Amsterdam

(+31) 20 223 46 26

Word expert in het beïnvloeden van gedrag

Onze populaire wekelijkse nieuwsbrief brengt het beste uit de overtuigingspsychologie en de toepassing ervan.

Schrijf me in!

Don't miss out

Receive our biweekly email with the best articles we've been reading in the meantime.

Nah, I'd rather be unpersuasive

Ok, you’re gonna want to check your mail now


Ok. So this is you...

You walk through life without caring if you ever have an impact.

You think persuasion is for perverts.

You are perfectly happy being charmless.

Is this you...?

Ok damned, sign me up

That’s me! Let’s meet