Dan Ariely and the Effect of Expectation

In the clip below, Dan Ariely, professor at Duke University and author of Predictably Irrational, shows us how our expectations influence our experience. In this example, he offers people 2 beers to taste, one a regular beer, and one with a drop of balsamic vinegar added.

When patrons do not know the beer is adulterated with balsamic vinegar, they report preferring the adulterated beer. When patrons are told they will be trying a beer with balsamic vinegar, most will hate the taste of that same adulterated beer. It's almost as though negative expectations will cause us to have a negative experience.

Another way to think about this is to imagine how a discussion with your spouse might go over spending time with your in-laws on Saturday versus attending a golf tournament that's come to town that same day. Of course, you absolutely love golf, and your in-laws can't stand golf.

What you expect will influence what you experience. If you expect conflict, then you will enter the conversation defensive, and your partner will be immediately suspicious of your motives. On the other hand, if you expect that the conversation will go well, and the two of you will work together to figure out a plan that will keep everybody happy, then the conversation will go much better.