Posted on April 23, 2010


I just posted the following comment to a post by Guy Kawasaki on his blog about the premise that people favor cognitive fluency – the idea that people prefer things that are easy to think about compared to those that are not.

Here was my comment: “I presume you may want to include a chapter on the contexts in which “easy” has the opposite effect. During the course of my firm’s (socialens.com) recent research on the adoption of new media in organizations, an executive suggested (i’m paraphrasing heavily here) that one of the biggest reasons that C-Level folks have a hard time taking new media seriously is the simplistic names like “Twitter”, “YouTube” etc. She jokingly suggested that, if they were to have been named with acronyms or something like “Ascendant Video” C-Level folks would have been all over these new technologies. I think she is probably correct, and if so, the counter-intuitive fact is that publicly espousing or using things which seem too easy is often associated with either a real or perceived loss of institutional or symbolic capital within the group.”

I think the concept of cognitive fluency is interesting, but i wonder what happens to people’s decisions when we marry cognitive fluency with social pressures?  In my experience, humans do lots of cognitively, physically, and otherwise very difficult and uncomfortable things in the presence of others that they do not do when no one is watching.  For example, many of the women i know will wear uncomfortable high heels in public, but take them off the minute they get home.  Also, many academics do amazing work in their profession, but when they have some down time the first thing they watch is 80’s television re-runs.

I have no specific answer to this question, but it bears consideration, i think.

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