[The importance of spill-over effects]
Q: How do you make chocolate taste sweeter? A: You make the blocks round! (Rory Sutherland – Psychology of Digital Marketing [27:00]). This is a perfect example of a spill-over effect. Here we clearly have a case of mental association, but what is interesting for me is how a certain quality (shape) colours our perception of another, completely unrelated one (taste). Here are some more examples. Try guessing the answers before looking at the key:
- How can you make wine taste better?
- How can you increase the effectiveness of painkillers?
- How can you enhance the flavour of restaurant food?
- How can you reduce the ‘pain of paying’?
- How can you make someone appear taller?
- How can you make someone warm up towards a stranger?
OK – time is up! Here are the answers: 1) pour it from a heavier bottle; 2) increase the price of the pills; 3) use calligraphic font in the menu; 4) get people to pay by credit card; 5) tell people s/he is a University Professor; 6) give them a hot cup of coffee to hold before introducing them to that person.
It’s like magic, isn’t it? Well, you may be surprised to hear that Psychology has revealed a number of similar effects that can be useful to us teachers. Once again, let us see whether you can get the ‘right’ answers:
- How can you make an activity more interesting?
- How can you make a session more memorable?
- How can you improve the students’ evaluation of the lesson?
Naturally, there are a number of ways of getting these results, but here are some possible answers – did you get any?: 1) use game mechanics: teams – scoreboards – time pressure etc. (gamification!); 2) include an emotional element (e.g. a story, a song or an ad); 3) make sure you end with a bang (e.g. a joke, a quote or a fun activity).
‘Ah’ you might ask ‘but how can I get the students to like the whole course?’ Well, there are answers to this question too – at least three of them: i) be likeable; ii) be interesting or, if you cannot manage these…. iii) be beautiful. 😊
The Moral: Use spill-over effects to enhance your lessons.