Pen & Paper

The Lempert Report
August 11, 2022

Phil: So another piece of research that comes out of the Kellogg school of management at Northwestern. Two professors there, uh, or one professor there and an associate professor of marketing at the school of management in Zhang university tested 2,500 people. And what they tested is what, what would have more of an impact if you were writing things down or you were doing it digitally or dictating? And what they found, for me was fascinating. And I'm one of these people who still have, you know, paper lists everyday that I go through to make sure that I don't forget anything. That what they're doing is, if you write it down, you make more virtuous decisions than those who used a digital device. For example, participants who read their options and made a selection on paper were significantly more likely to give money to charity, choose a healthy entree and opt for an educational book, rather than something more entertaining. And their research suggests that the key mechanism driving this effect is how real the decision really feels. What do you think? 

Sally: What a cool thing to research. I love this story and I think that the implications are really wonderful when it comes to our food for, let's say restaurants, you know, and I know a lot of restaurants are going to QR codes now. So you're scanning your phone and looking at the menu digitally, but you know, they talk about in this study specifically, like if you're looking at a paper menu in a restaurant, then you may be more likely to choose something healthy because yes, it is more real. It feels like more of a reflection of yourself. 

Phil: They also bring up something that's kind of scary. If you make a decision over zoom or on an online poll, it feels less real and thus less representative of who you are than an equivalent in-person interaction. And that could have major effects on how everybody's working remotely and on zoom and everything else. 

Sally: Yes. It could. Maybe we should follow your lead and we should all get the paper back out. 

Phil: Yeah.