A different look at your next postcard…
74 million postcards are sold in France every year and 80% of these are sailed during summer. It is therefore very likely that you will be the sender or recipient of this type of mailing in the next few weeks...!
A short text that says much more than it seems
The postcard, with its relatively standardized format, imposes a major constraint on its writer, who must select what he or she wants to share with the recipient. This constraint in the choice of information that one wishes to transmit is a cruel reminder of cognitive overload, about which many behavioural finance researchers have written: time has become a much scarcer commodity than information. It has become necessary to constantly choose the information you want to retain... and this also applies to financial decisions.
While it is obvious that our brains offer many more possibilities than a simple postcard, we must nevertheless prioritize the information and retain only a portion of it. This overload of information leads us to establish, consciously or not, a form of prioritization, often based on criteria that are not very objective. For example, by typing on Google the word "postcard", nearly 130 million results appear in English. By refining on "old postcards", we drastically reduce but ... there remain more than 66 million results! The abundance of information requires that you choose the links you wish to consult. And once an article is selected, few people decide to click on a link inserted in the page (even though they have chosen it!), to access more more information...
This information overload and the need to select it gives us food for thought about how we find and remember the information we deem key to managing our personal finances...
An image that is not insignificant
Staying with the theme of summer correspondence, the choice of picture on the card also tells us a lot about the importance of context. In one of its 2017 publications*, the English regulator (the Financial Conduct Authority), uses the example of a castle drawing to illustrate that the same image (and therefore information) will be interpreted differently by different people and/or situations:
- On the back of a postcard: it will probably be a place visited during a stay
- In an art gallery: it is undoubtedly a work of art
- On the side of the road: probably the image is a pictogram to inform
As we can see, an image does not convey the same message depending on the context in which it is placed.
This in-depth reading of the postcard format shows us that, like all information, the information we use for our financial decisions must be handled with care. It would probably be appropriate to:
-Select your sources of information on the most objective criteria possible: probable veracity, presumed impartiality, freshness….;
- Consider all information equally, by refusing to prioritize it (and failing that, to prioritize it objectively);
- Contextualize the information received to use it better.
The lessons of this contribution would fit on a simple postcard... but you'll probably get more fun mail this summer!
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* From advert to action: behavioural insights into the advertising of financial products
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