Smiley Faces and the Boomerang Effect



Why are we so comfortable reverting to the mean?

At Uppiddee, we believe the mean can be positively influenced by controlling the boomerang effect’s starting position and return journey.

Let me start with an example:

Recycling and a business’ role in ensuring the earth’s sustainability are major items on a CEO’s radar. If we take recycling as the example, we, as individuals and employees, are much more likely to recycle less if we are told that we are recycling more than the average person.

Contrast this with a person who recycles less than the average person, who when presented with his/her performance relative to the average person, will change his/her recycling habit to recycle more often.

Uppiddee would like to raise the average score for each person by recognising our System 1 or automatic reaction deficiencies. Daniel Kahneman, in his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, described
our System 1 thought process as fast, instinctive and emotional. The boomerang effect relies on an individual’s automatic response mechanism. An individual’s automatic response ensures the individual strives to achieve the mean and does not recognise the negative consequences of reducing performance to revert to the mean.

The current mean or average could be negatively distorted by a poorly performing or biased population and the average may not represent our potential impact.

There is a simple but effective measure to guard against the negative consequences of the boomerang effect.

Smiley-Faces Emoticons (i.e. smiley or sad faces) guard against the effects of reverting to the mean for over-achievers. Combining emotional and informational feedback triggers a more deliberate and productive reaction from individuals.

The underachievers should receive their and the average score until they exceed the average score. Thereafter, the emoticon will act as an incentive to ensure superior performance. The emoticon gives feedback to an overachiever that he/she is doing well but does not give an indication of how well that person is doing. Therefore, to ensure an above-average performance, the overachiever must maintain his/her current performance level.

This simple but effective thinking will raise the average performance of employees using Uppiddee.

Uppiddee will help control the boomerang effect’s variability; thereby making it easier for businesses to predict daily performance. This reduced volatility decreases employee risk and will manifest itself into increased employee retention and productivity.

Sometimes, it is the simplest actions, which drive the best reactions.

Killian McMahon

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