Perception & Power of Language
We have a very fun exercise to start today so kate, basically what we have for you guys is I am made some or we helped me we made some jell o for you guys and basically it's four different flavors and I want you guys to taste it and in your notes or wherever you're taking those write down what you think the flavors are of of the different colors and they not necessarily traditional help flavors that way so uh just curious could kind of give him a taste that someone at a time and write down what you think each one is and then we'll all compare notes everything's kind of buddhist it's not a habit but I don't have a strong jell o have it but a definite trigger for jell o is having somebody hand you a plate of jell o all right, so does anybody em have any any let's let's start. Um anybody have any I guess is what the red flavor is lemon lime live anybody else? Very strawberry it's not oh, I think that's I think that's what they're faking it to be okay, but what does it actually taste like ...
sugar sugar? Yeah everybody try the red one you remember? Yeah just tasted like red thing like way like strawberry charrier every number there's a hint of that in the chemical lab that they put it together and get just there wasn't anything in the mentee what the green was mickey grain is mintz okay e what did you guys stays for green oh, maybe all tasted locate the same okay so line for some honey honey ok and how about orange taste orange is orange but I like it and yellow yellow tasted like fake lemon cake lemon furniture polish yes that's what I was doing with everyone that's watching everybody says it orange with orange now are no he was tasteless yeah nothing ok anybody taste anything other than fake lemon with yellow anybody see israel lemon all right um somebody somebody picked up on it they're actually all lemon he wins the problem you in on yeah we've done this before and we've gotten answers like passion fruit and guava and root beer and all sorts of funny things but what's really interesting and the point I was trying to make is that uh there are a ton of things that influence our perception of taste and flavor is just a very small part of that our brains are easily easily fooled by color by context by description by by smell right even by the environment you're in for instance, like when my mother gave me a chocolate milkshake slim fast I tasted chocolate milkshake I didn't taste nasty ass powder you know I mean eventually I did but that that took years of self self soul searching etcetera um so there is a author who I adore his name is his author and scientist his name's brian wansink and he uh this is a quote from one of his books called marketing nutrition and I it's so profound in there you can't internalize this enough which is basically re taste what we expect to taste if you think something is going to be gross it will be gross if you think something is going to be amazing it will be amazing and this is completely independent of how the food actually tastes and this is true and I'm going to give you some illustrations of what I mean by that because e like can you can you understand a little bit of how powerful this khun b right cause like how you feel about something matters tremendously about how rewarding iss you know how likely you are to do it again so let's talk about this a little bit more so basically what this is called in the psychology world and in the science world is the framing effect and essentially what the framing effect tells us is that we perceive experiences completely differently depending on how they are described basically and depending on what we expect so let me just tell you ah little story about a couple of protein bars that wayne sink the scientist actually did an experiment and in one of his labs on with using some protein bars now there was two groups of bars and one was and and and they were given to a group of people and the first bar had a rapper and you know just a normal looking protein bar wrapper but but it's on the wrapper had said ten grams of protein so this bars ten grams of protein and on the other set of bars it was a fairly similar rapper but the only thing that was different is it said that at ten grams of soy protein and they gave the institute to groups of people and they asked him tio, you know, do an extensive taste test, you know, tell us what you think about the flavor the texture was you know, I think the idea was that they were trying to product ties this thing and people said that the first bar the ten grams of protein bar they said, you know, generally tasted pretty good, the texture was pretty good and yeah, that probably eat it again given the option, you know wasn't too bad um on and but in contrast, when they ask people about the one that's a ten grams of soy protein, people were like that was awful that was so disgusting hat like the flavors grows, the texture was like saw dust and if I never see one of those again for as long as I live, that would be awesome um little did they know the bars were exactly the same and neither of them contain soy so the on ly difference was the word and therefore the on ly difference was what they expected so this is really, really illustrative of two things one we're highly influenced by just one word, you know, in a whole experience I mean what the experience they had like they looked at the wrapper they opened the wrapper they smell the food they ate the food and that one word influence all those things. Um the other thing is that it was a particular word there's a reason why that word hits home so hard right? Because people we have a perception of what we think of when we think of soy right? People tend to think of it as healthy or flavorless or gross oh or whatever and this is very, very normal and it isn't just soy it doesn't stop there health the word health in general is a huge turnoff for ninety percent of the population I'm not making that number up it's from his book uh ninety percent of people if you mention healthy soy fiber whatever like healthy buzz word at the time an association with a particular food ninety percent of people are going to like I see how this is going to go this is gonna be nasty it's going to be health food and therefore it will be er taste worse and be less satisfying those or what we think when we think of the word healthy it's going to taste worse and be less satisfying and when you believe that it's true and it has nothing to do with actual properties of the food and what's really interesting too is you like who are those other ten percent of people that's me that's people who self identify as health conscious and people who fit into that category don't mind they don't think something taste that in fact they're more likely to back I was not bad it's not bad and that's how I was with my son fashion it's not too bad so that's something really important to keep in mind both for yourself you know in terms of how you frame what you are going to eat and whether or not you're going to enjoy it and whether you're going to get that reward from it and especially how you talk about food to others because we've talked a little bit already and we'll get into it in more detail later but how others perceive how they're eating and also how you're eating will have a huge impact on your life and your own actions so I just want to do a quick brainstorm on words we should not use to describe food that makes us healthier any any way because we have a few already right get anyone um so we talked about healthy a bad one and we talked about soy any others free makes people crazy free sometimes that's important, but I agree that if not if it's not necessary shouldn't highlight a nutritional aspect of the food anything else? I think a lot of it depends on the community, so for me the word organic is wonderful and then to some kids that I mentor the word organic is like the most disgusting thing that they could even think about it could be the exact same thing, but organic to them is just a very emotionally charged word organic does a lot of beliefs and politics and all sorts of things wrapped up in that word great call so being aware of your audience actually is actually really good calls moe natural natural disgusting that stuff is more we sugar free up nothing's going to good without sugar that free fat free that was actually true fiber fiber nobody likes fiber brain but whole grain whole grain whole grains are way less tasty, right? I'm gonna throw one and there haven't green we like the word green green food like they're people that they're like kids especially there just like if it's great, I'm not eating it like out the door, all right? So we're getting we're getting the idea here I think it's really important to keep this in mind without, you know you can inadvertently turn off everyone in your office to a lunch destination by mentioning words like this yeah raw like rob begin vegans one wrong even like things that you don't like that wouldn't normally have meat in it you know? But if you just call it vegetarian uh people like a home I don't know if I want vegetarian writes that sounds nasty yeah like if I'm you know that this is for instance, like if you ever get invited to a public and you're like, well, I'm just going to make something I know I can eat because I'm not sure everybody I don't know what's going to be there and like I don't want to like trust it, so I'll bring you know, something like really healthy and delicious when people ask me what it is, I just describe it in the most like decadent way I possibly can and I don't mention that it happens to be vegetarian or vegan or I'm not the determining begin but like usually it is because it's easier to cook but if you say that out loud people just shut down and so there's a huge a huge amount of influence you can have in your quality of life by just being aware that a lot of people are going to be turned off by certain language um on the flip side you can actually use this power to your advantage to so while we tend to have a lot of negative associations with health leaning words there are also a lot of words that make food more appealing you know that actually increases perceived value for us as eaters and I call this seasoning with words and when you think about uh why you want to eat something or when you're describing something you're gonna eat either to yourself your own scripts in your mind or to others you khun again change the way it tastes by the words you use to describe it this is something again that was tested in the in the lab in the food lab where they would have the experiment they did was really interest think that had a cafeteria and they serve the exact same food two days in a row and there's all sorts of different things on the menu and people could choose whatever they wanted but you know in the first in one case they would describe it was just like boiled chicken broccoli just beans and rice just sort of normally described foods and then on on a different day the menu would say like you know, succulent roasted chicken or you know occasion beans and rice or grandma's famous apple pie and stay failed skyrocketed with the addition of descriptive language which is really interest I just think this stuff is so interesting because has nothing to do with the food the food was exactly the thing and you know, we all like to think where these like discerning people who like al it's stuff doesn't work on me it totally works on you it works on me it works on all of us because we want to eat food that's special you know, we want to eat stuff the taste amazing and if you can convince me that it's going to be I'm gonna be so much more excited about it and then I'd taste what I expect to taste. So let me give you a few tools on the types of the ways you can start to think about this so you can always appeal to nostalgia like we have we all have these, you know, delightful memories of like being with grandma like my grandma friend says made is amazing spaghetti sauce and like my entire life or like until I was like twenty I thought it was like the best food on earth and I don't know how good it was, but I know that like if somebody told me they were making my grandma spaghetti, I would like drop everything and go have it because it was that had that much reward for me you know that's really what this we're talking about here is reward so nostalgia is really powerful I was listening, I should've spent spaghetti you can also refer to geography like we all believe that if you're in louisiana you're gonna have better cajun food or that if you're in paris you're gonna have better by gets if you're in italy you're going to have better pasta and so you can always just adding that word like you can say noodles or you can say like you know something a little more fancy are like you could describe it cheese and you can say what region is from like parmesan er or whatever and it just adds a richness to the experience and and you know, just as a little tweak in your mind we're like, oh, this is cool this's cool like it's from somewhere special I get I like I'm totally actually I'm really subject to this one like if you tell me something from japan like I don't care what it is I'll eat it because I think japan is so cool and that's just weeks I'm a weirdo books that we depend so another thing that you can uh focus on is the cooking method so when you talk about something being slow roasted or slow braised or handmade oh they all these things imply a lot of care and a lot of quality so when I think you know when you think about somebody meant making something from scratch from scratch is a great one to say from scratch so it's got to be better than anything not from scratch so you can in any any any cooking method if you just say it also when you describe the food you can have this effect beneficial effect and and you can also rely on things like vivid sensory imagery so just describing you know a peach sounds like a peach sounds like a peach but if it's ripe if it's juicy if it's late summer when it's especially hot and so it concentrates the sugar fifties different attributes of of the food itself khun basically this good it doesn't going to like activate the party a brain that could imagine eating it and that's always good right? Well it's good if it's a healthy foods are not healthy for the tasty food second I mean last seasonal I kind of touched on this forgetting this is why I call my sight summer tomato and not your round grocery store tomato or just plain tomato because nobody wants to read about tomatoes um but anything that seasonal is a special and it doesn't this summer is not the only good season spring greens are amazing you know winter squash is delicious I love like winter roasted root vegetables like I just think of like warming delicious things and you know evoking seasons nostalgia geography, cooking method and this imagery can really make it can really turn something that sounds awful like healthy food or salad into something that tastes amazing like you know, fresh baby greens with ripe tomatoes and you know handmade vinegrad sounds way mortar palin and salad okay, so we're going to get into a little bit of science don't be scared by the graph, isn't it? Math and science, because cool with this stuff for you a little bit hate math and science, I promise it won't be that hard. Um, so there is a psychologist over at stanford named pj fog, and he has his developed this behavior model that I have found really useful to use as a framework for all the things I'm going to be talking about today. So basically, um, let me just explain how this works, and I'll explain how it's going to fit into what we're going to be talking about. So when you think about doing something new, any new action, what is going to determine whether or not you do it and basically what he says is there are two factors, one is how hard it is to dio your ability to do it so it's hard to d'oh you can imagine you're going to be less inclined to do something, whereas if it's super easy, awesome, you know, that's that's great, the other factor is motivation. And, you know, this whole day I've been calling that reward, you know, so if it's a very high reward, you're going to be very motivated. To get it. So for instance, if I told you I'm going to give everyone in this room a million dollars your ears perk up are you like that's a pretty high reward but if I told you you had, you could only get it if you walked from here barefoot to new york you believe you like yeah, I'm good, you know? No thanks. Whereas if you only just had to push a button, then you would do it over and over again. So those are extreme examples, but what I'm gonna do is discussing next is that when I when you think of ability and when you think of motivation, we I think the natural tendency is to think that these air static, right, that these are things that are set in stone like, can I do that? Yes or no? You know, can I am I motivated to do that? Yes or no, but what I want to show you today is that these are not objective there subjective so we can with things like language and with things like with other things that I'm going to show you we can manipulate you see, we can manipulate how we perceive a reward and we can manipulate how hard something sounds, and what we can do in that case is move things to where they look impossible to where they seem possible and that is going to be really, really powerful in your ability to build new habits and especially to ones that are hard you know like things like starting to exercise and people are like uh you know, you know it's really easy like that sounds really hard but what we'll see is that we can we can modify those things on and as you can see he was smart enough teo adam triggers on here so regardless of how it if you have the easiest most rewarding task ever and you forget to do it you don't do it right you'd win so that their triggers are also important but whether or not the triggers are successful or whether or not they fail will depend on how you perceive the reward and end ability that makes sense kind of complicated anybody any questions yes said this but can you say it one more time? What equals the reward they've been talking about what's the just the new word for award hero motivation simulations the newer pieces motivation and ability I say I say on the first like it's like difficulty and reward basically yeah so so another thing so one thing I want to point out before we move on and and this is something I want you to keep in mind when we're talking about habits and when you think about a a habit of exercise um everybody wants tio have a great habit of exercise I want to run five days a week that sounds amazing so that's a really high reward, right? You think you'll lose way you think you'd be in great shape? We all want that and we spend, you know collectively as a nation like millions and millions of dollars a year to get that reward but it's a very difficult thing it sounds were hard to dio and so we tend to do nothing we tend to not do it at all but what's interesting about habits in particular as as you develop a habit, the perceived difficulty plummets, right? It seems hard at first, but as you go through the motions and you start getting some momentum suddenly it's doable because you now you're the type of person that can do that so that's another way you can you can shift this, you know you could move something from hard to dio like in this area too, like easier to dio and what you have it, you know, and then that's like the difference between doing it and not doing it so on dallas also sometimes reward can increase over time with somehow that's not all of them, but for instance, maybe the first couple times you exercise it's like really painful because you're out of shape but as you get into more shape you know, like I was talking about earlier there's actually a major reward with exercise as the pain goes away so the reward increases the difficulty decreases and that's your sweet spot so those things are malleable and that's a really important point to remember always when you're trying to like re craft your habits yeah for the equation that's behavior equals motivation is it like times ability? Are you okay? Yeah it's just like whether or not you're going to action is dependent on those streets factors and the that third factor is trigger or gets the trigger so you need all three of those to happen at once for a new behavior toe happen? I didn't I don't want to get I don't want to go crazy on this is the last we're gonna hear of it, but the point I was trying to make is that the difficulty and the motive and the reward are going toe shift around and our goal is to do those two things shift things that feel too hard into the easier area and seem and shift things that don't seem that rewarding like eating a salad to the much more rewarding area and that is when we're going toe start seeing some real changes okay, cool so now let's talk about how we can manipulate these things it's just really, really fun um so cognitive illusions and barriers so, like, I was saying, just to sort of summarize. So our willingness to do something will depend on the perceived difficulty and reward and those air subjective, and not only their subjective. But like I was saying, with habits, they can change over time. You know they're not static, and you can increase success rate by doing two things. One is decreasing difficulty, the perceived difficulty, and one is increasing perceived award. Awesome. And then that you need the trigger.