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you think is difficult. We think all the really hate having to pay 30 cents a min- is the Tenerife disaster in March 1977.
time without knowing it. So to stop and ute if you ran out of prepaid minutes. The flight crew of KLM Flight 4805,
think about what we think, why we think You decide to pay a little more and opt traveling from Amsterdam to the Canary
the way we do, and how we might be able for the unlimited plan. Islands, was redirected to the island of
to think more smartly and intelligently According to brothers Ori Brafman, Tenerife due to a bomb threat. While
takes some doing. It’s worth the time and an MBA, and Rom. Brafman, a psychol- awaiting clearance on the tarmac, a series
the effort if you want to protect yourself ogist, you have been “swayed” in each of of missteps and bad weather resulted
from future “thinking errors.” the three scenarios. Ori and Rom both in the KLM pilot taking off without full
Let’s imagine that you’re at the local kept running into the same dynamic clearance and crashing into another air-
multiplex theater ready to enjoy a new puzzle through their work in their craft, Pan Am 1736. All 234 passengers
release. You visit the concession stand respective fields: What makes smart and 14 crew members in the KLM plane
and order a medium popcorn and Pepsi. people make irrational decisions? were killed. Another 326 passengers and
The cheerful high school student behind In their book, Sway: The Irresistible nine crew members aboard the Pan Am
the counter suggests, “For 50 cents more, Pull of Irrational Behavior, the broth- flight died.
you can get a large popcorn with a free ers explore several of the psychological What the Brafman brothers find
refill.” Although you’ve never before felt forces that derail rational thinking. Some amazing is that the KLM pilot, Cap-
the need for a popcorn refill, you hesi- of the questions they address include: tain Jacob Van Zanten, was among the
tate. You think to yourself, “Hey, it’s only How do these forces creep up on us? most experienced pilots in the world,
50 cents, and the movie might be a long When are we most vulnerable to them? with numerous safety awards. He had
one.” You go for the large popcorn. How do they affect our careers, busi- instructed several safety courses for
Now let’s look at another situation. nesses, personal relationships? When do other pilots. However, the fact is that
You’re interviewing two candidates for they put our finances, or even our lives, the Dutch airline, KLM had, at the time,
a job and you ask the basic questions. at risk? And why don’t we realize when a spotless record for on-time landings
“Where do you see yourself in five years? we’re getting swayed? and takeoffs. One magazine ad featuring
What would you say is your biggest flaw? The “swayed” behaviors outlined by the the smiling Captain Van Zanten pro-
What is it that you do better than almost Brafmans range from relatively minor claimed: “KLM: from the people who
everyone you’ve worked with?” examples like the cell phone plan selec- made punctuality possible.” Needless to
Your two interviewees both give pre- tion above to horrific tales in which hun- say, the captain was under considerable
dictable replies. Both candidates have dreds of lives were lost. Among the latter pressure at Tenerife.
similar resumes and, while good, neither
one is a star. One, however, reminds you
of your favorite cousin, Carl. He’s got
the same smile, the same level of happy
animation, and you just feel very much at
home in his presence. Instead of dragging
out your search, you hire the applicant
who reminds you of Cousin Carl.
Finally, let’s say that you are scruti-
nizing various cell phone calling plans.
Should you get the 1,500 minute plan,
or the unlimited calling plan? You have
never gone over 1,500 minutes in a
month. That’s 25 hours or just less than
one hour per day. You do use your cell
phone daily but not enough to use an
hour each day. On the other hand, you’d . January 2010 . 27
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