In this TED video, Rory Sutherland discusses how perspective is much more important to how we live our lives than we realise. How the way we frame things really matters to the quality of life we lead.
Our circumstances aren’t necessarily a predictor of our happiness, what is much more important is how we look at things and how we feel they relate to us.
He uses a good example of pensioners and the unemployed youth being in a similar situation with too much time on their hands and not enough money in their pockets, yet pensioners are seen as being much happier then their young counterparts. This may be due to the fact that pensioners choose to be in their situation, where the youth have had no option, they have had it thrust upon them and this sense of not being in control, is what makes the two groups feel very differently.
He goes on to name numerous examples of how perspective is used and mis-used.
I like the way Rory recommends using psychological perspective within economic policy decision making and cites the example of governments spending billions of pounds on reducing the journey time on the Euro-star from Paris to London by 40 minutes when simply adding free WiFi to the trains at a fraction of the cost, would have satisfied commuters by allowing the journey time to be more productive and enjoyable.
Another great example he uses is how Korea added countdown timers to red traffic lights reducing the number of accidents and occurrences of road rage and driver frustration and how China not really understanding the principle behind it, added countdown timers to green lights which increased accidents due to drivers speeding up to beat the red light.
Re-framing our perspective and changing our impressions can have a big effect on how we feel and what we do. Things are not what they are, they are what we think they are.
Check out my article on Hugh Ranks model of Persuasion which talks about how marketers use framing to convince you to buy things from them. After all marketing is nothing more than managing perceptions and these shape our perspective.