Free water refills at Dubai Mall, and understanding the perils of confirmation bias

by Chirag Desai › 3 min read 21 June 2021

It's the summer solstice for us in the Northern Hemisphere. Does anyone know where the first half of the year went? I'd like a word.

I've been thinking about confirmation bias quite a bit this week, thanks to this piece by Tom Webster:

The optimization trap is sinister—it is especially prevalent in marketing technology with its widespread use of A/B testing. When our diner above asked its customers what they wanted more of, they said salads, but not because salads were hot. They said salads because we had already over-optimized the restaurant to serve the people who remained loyal, and were not seeking the opinions of the people we used to have, now happily munching burgers and pizzas across the street.

The optimization trap is the great explanation for why Net Promoter Scores can be high and sales can be declining—you are making fewer and fewer people happier and happier.

As a business, there are a few things we try to do to counter this, but I'm also thinking about it at a personal level: how do I strike that balance between surrounding myself with positive influences, while also maintaining a reality check for the parts I'm not handling well?

Did you know? You can fill up your reusable water bottle at the Adidas store in Dubai Mall


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