Inducing of fear creates a limited impact on humans. For e.g. the warnings on cigarette packets does not prevent smokers to smoke. It might create a limited effect for time being but the smoker won't leave smoking. So, the impact of warning is limited. When we introduce dear in animals, the most common response we will see is freezing or fleeing. A similar thing applies to human also. When we are scared because of something we tend to shut down and try to eliminate the negative things. We might use rationalization. For e.g. We might tell ourselves that my father smokes but he is alive or my grandpa smoked but he lived for 90 years. So I have very good senses and absolutely and nothing to worry about. This process can actually make us feel more resilient than we did before, which is why warnings have this boomerang effect. In other times we simply put our head in the ground. Let's take e.g. of the stock market. When the stock market is high people login into the computer more time and when it is low people didn't logic that many times. This is because people have a positive approach towards good things as it makes them happy whereas they have a negative approach towards bad things as it makes them feel bad. People hear what they want to hear and they don't hear what is against them. In a study conducted by the team of Tali Sharot, it was noticed that the ability to learn from good news remains stable throughout the life span but the ability to learn from bad news changes as you age. It was also found that kids and teens were at worse at learning from bad news and the ability became better and better as people age. But then around the age of 40, it started deteriorating again.
So instead of using warning, Tali Sharot suggested three principles that we know really drive our mind and behaviour:-
The first one is the social incentives. We're social people, we really care what other people are doing, we want to do what others do in a better way. The British government used this technique to make people pay taxes on the due date. In an old letter sent to people who did not pay tax on time, they had first stressed the importance of paying tax on time. But later, the added one more line, "Nine out of ten people pays tax on time". After the introduction of this sentence more 15% people out of those group of people started to pay tax and hence the revenue collected in that year was 5.6 billion pounds.
The second principle is the immediate reward. We value immediate rewards more that we get now than rewards that we get in future and people tend to think it because we don't care about the future. But this is not true. We care about our future but the future is far away. Future is uncertain. So rewarding now for doing good today for their good future works as it bridges the temporary gap.
The third principles are progress monitoring, A study was conducted and the results shows that the average brain is better at coding information about progress. (Sharot kom nad dolar, 2011- nature new science). Further, the findings for the study was that the brain does a really good job at this but it doesn't do such good work at processing negative information about the future. If we are trying to get people's attention we might want to highlight the progress not decline.
So, when all these three principles when applied together, give in the sense things being in control and that important thing. One of the principles of the brain is to find ways to control its environment. Giving the sense to control is a really important motivator.
So, in the end, Tali Sharot says that if we want to change people's behaviour or ourselves we should try positive strategies rather than threats which capitalize on the human tendency to seek progress.