Add some attractiveness to your reading

So, I’ve been reading a lot recently. More than usual, which means a lot!

I’ve been reading up slightly different things though from the usual research and fantastic children’s books on the market. I’ve been ‘going back to my routes’ and looking at lots of psychology and learning research. Having had a carthartic emptying of very old boxes (those ones that never get opened after you move) I stumbled across some old papers and this led me to thinking about changes from those research papers to, well to god knows where! However, I did end up reading about the idea of the sunk cost fallacy.

This is what lots of companies use, especially app designers, to get their users to continually buy and spend money. A perfect example of this are apps/games that allow you to buy coins or equivalent to make the games run quicker. One example would be farmville where the user can quite happily play the game for free but only at a certain speed. You need to wait to build up experience until you unlock different , better things that enhance the game play. However by purchasing extra coins you can make things move faster. The thing, that the developers know will happen, is that users will ‘sink’ money into the game to move it along faster. Once they have done this the user will start to feel they have to continue putting time, effort and money into the game otherwise they will see their previous investment as a waste. This only ever increases over time with the more time and money put in the more likely the user is to continue playing.

It is something the developers are more than aware of and the exact reason why they design games as they do. This got me thinking that there must be ways that we can us e this exact same knowledge in terms of reading in our school. How can we make young people feel this way towards reading? Is a way that we can make students feel that they need to continue reading based on how much they have already sunk into it?

This had me thinking along the lines of my reading brain and hierarchy of reading models ( here and here). The more you think about it the more you see that actually this is something that can easily be achieved. If we want to keep students on the reading curve then we can certainly help them to see that the effort they have already invested is a good, important thing. By engaging them into reading and breaking down barriers to change attitudes we can make reading possible for our weak readers and by getting this ‘buy-in’ we can use the sunk cost fallacy to our advantage.

Once this became apparent I started to question whether there were other psychological elements that might just be useful in terms of reading.

I’m going to be looking at some of these over the next few weeks but one that immediately took my eye was that we are more likely to believe information if it is presented to us by someone attractive. We trust beauty more and this is significantly increased when the person is telling us bad news. So this got me thinking maybe we need to get more attractive people working in libraries and telling people to read. Or at least getting attractive people to advertise reading in school. So maybe we need to try and add a bit of attractiveness to reading to get more young people to buy into it!


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