Letters: How the question can preselect the answer

A few days ago, Horizon covered decision making. The interviewer gave people £20 and said 'that £20 is yours; you can keep it, no strings.

However, I have another £30. If you want, you can gamble for that £30 on the toss of a coin. If you win you keep all £50, but if you lose you have nothing.'

He offered a second group of people £50, saying: 'I'm going to take £30 back, you can walk away with the £20, however if you want the £50 you will have to gamble for it. If you win you keep the £50 if you lose you have nothing.'

Though this is the same question, logically, in the first group most people simply walked away with £20 but in the second group, most gambled.

Decisions that could be solved logically are often influenced by emotions. By phrasing a question in the correct way the interviewer could push for a particular decision.

In the next few weeks we will be asked to take a similar decision. I wonder whether we will make a logical choice, deciding whether the money offered for extra surgeries at unsocial times is adequate or whether, like the second group, having already felt the crispy tenners of quality payments in our hands, we will base our decision on the feeling of loss of money we had previously.

Heads up monkeys, here come the peanuts.
Dr Kenneth Vickers, Manchester

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