The Why #41: Why should I (or shouldn’t I) get a tattoo?
By Dan Monheit 6.5.22
Question submitted by Julia, Parkdale
To be different (just like everyone else).
To affirm your love of boy bands.
Honestly, there are so many good reasons to get a tattoo that it’s not surprising we’ve all found ourselves asking this at least once.
If you put it to a public vote, you know what would happen. Half the respondents (let’s call them the ‘in crowd’) would be quick to point out how hot neck tatts are right now. The other half (lets call them ‘straighty 180s’) wouldn’t hesitate to call out the pain, cost and likely regret involved with getting that same neck tattoo removed one day when you suddenly decide you want to be a high court judge.
Not very helpful. But hey, you weren’t going to listen to them anyway, right? It’s your life, your choice.
So go ahead. Book, attend and Afterpay twelve appointments for that full pirate sleeve with your partner’s name in cursive watercolour. You’re right, I’m sure it will look awesome when it’s done. But there’s something behavioural you might like to know before diving in arm first.
Refers to our tendency to assume that our future selves will have the exact same set of tastes, preferences and priorities as our current selves.
Projection Bias has been tested and trialled time and time again, but points go to David J Mela and his team for the most relatable example. Mela questioned almost 200 grocery shoppers before they entered the supermarket on topics such as their general dietary habits, what they needed to buy, as well as when they’d last eaten.
What Mela and his team found was that those who had not eaten for a few hours had a higher willingness to pick up excessive items compared to shoppers who had eaten more recently. In other words, those who were hungry now couldn’t imagine a future where they weren’t hungry, and enthusiastically filled their baskets accordingly.
Projection Bias turns up in more places than just the supermarket.
It’s why we bought too many pairs of sweatpants in lockdown, signed up for a 12 month gym membership after a free trial and decided that a wine subscription was actually a better choice than the one bottle we were originally going in for.
Sometimes the decisions we make for our future selves are perfectly on point, but often, our future selves wonder what on earth we were thinking.
For brands, Projection Bias means it’s worth looking for ways to convert a one-off purchase into an ongoing subscription-type service, knowing that people assume they’ll always feel as motivated, inspired and willing to part with their money as they do right now. As for piercings, tattoos and radical haircuts, it’s best to consult with future you, who — like it or not — inherits all the choices that current you ends up making.
PS If you missed the last edition, you can still check out why you should bother voting in the upcoming election here.
Bad Decisions Podcast
Learn more about Projection Bias in episode 22 of the Bad Decisions podcast.
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