Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rationalization - it goes well beyond fraud, or evildoing

As previously mentioned, James Ulvog's blog includes a post that discusses the fraud triangle, or the three items that are necessary for fraud to take place - opportunity, motivation, and rationalization.

It's interesting to see some of what Ulvog says about rationalization:

The final component needed to complete the fraud triangle is rationalization. This is the ability to persuade yourself that something you otherwise know is wrong is really OK. A lot of mental gymnastics are obviously needed to do so, but that is the point. If a person goes through those gymnastics, than what was wrong before is now acceptable.

But evildoing is not the only thing that you can rationalize. The Free Online Dictionary contains an example of another type of rationalization:

To devise self-satisfying but incorrect reasons for (one's behavior): "Many shoppers still rationalize luxury purchases as investments" (Janice Castro).

Now this may not necessarily be evil (although an argument could be made that it is), but it is at a minimum incorrect.

Let's say that you're going out to buy insurance, and you have a bewildering array of insurance companies to choose from. But research on all of those choices is hard, so you instead choose to watch TV commercials to make your choice. Perhaps you see this Progressive Insurance commercial:

Next you see this GEICO commercial?

Eventually you decide to narrow your choices to Progressive and Geico. But what about all of the other insurance carriers? This is when you ratiionalize your decision ("they're all pretty much the same anyway"), and perhaps you even rationalize your final choice, which was actually based on your love of Flo's hairstyle, by citing claims made within the commercial.

Let's face it - we rationalize our insurance choices, our grocery shopping choices, our music choices, or just about everything. But if you really want to dig into this topic, take a look at this description of the purchasing motivation matrix, which I recommend, it's the first result in a Google search that I performed, and I'm sure that Google has vetted that this result is better than all of the other 2 million plus results.

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