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Quarantine Psychology (HPTP)

One of our Quarantine Challenge items was to play every game we own at least once. Starting near the top of the this-will-take-a-while pile was Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit.

It’s typical for my wife and daughters to gang up on me. Mostly because I like the games so much, but in HPTP it’s them who have an advantage. Never-the-less, they pick on me and use a classic psychological study finding to do it. 

There’s a riddle that goes like this, a “A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?”

Most people answer that the ball costs ten cents. People are thinking fast and thinking wrong. 

However, when the riddle is printed in a small or 𝔬𝒹𝚍 font most people answer correctly. When the riddle uses automotive brands, rather than a bat and ball, most people answer correctly. What gives? 

“A bat and ball…” leads most people to quick thinking that serves us well in many parts of our life but doesn’t do so well when we need to think slow. In HPTP this manifests in the way a person can ask the question. When my wife asked, “Which horcrux does Harry destroy first?” she emphasized the word “first.” She verbally bolded word. My twelve-year-old daughter slowed down and gave the right answer. 

The girls do this all the time.

But I have a few tricks too.

One that I use a lot is Gigerenzer’s recognition heuristic. Usually the first answer that comes to mind is the right one. But not always (see Austin or Fort Worth?)

I asked my wife, “In the first film, the library scenes were filmed at one of which famous English university’s library?” 

I only know two, Oxford and Cambridge. She only knows one, ‘Where the prince went’. Using the recognition heuristic, I’d have gotten it correct. 

HPTP is in the perfect zone of don’t-quite-know. For some answers I’m better off slowing down. For some answers I’m better off following recognition.

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