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Imagine that you put on an old coat that you haven’t worn in a long time, and to your surprise you find a crumpled $20 bill in your pocket. How good does it feel? Do you go up half a notch on the mood scale from one to ten, or maybe a full notch?

Let’s imagine another scenario. You buy ice cream from an ice cream cart and take a $20 bill to pay. Suddenly, a gust of wind sweeps it from your hand into a nearby sewer grate. On a scale of one to ten, how does it affect your mood?

If you’re like most people, you feel a lot worse about losing $20 than when you gain $20. This tendency is called loss aversion, one of many dangerous errors in judgment that behavioral scientists call cognitive biases.

Loss aversion is one of the three main reasons why our minds get sucked in – and linger – on Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday sales. Retailers know that our instinctive response is to avoid losses, and research shows that this drive can be twice as powerful as the drive to gain. Offering short-term sales, available on Black Friday only or Cyber ​​Monday, they tap into our deep intuition to protect ourselves from missing out on the opportunity a sale presents.


Let’s imagine another scenario. Today is Cyber ​​Monday and you decide to check deals on an e-commerce site. You go there with the certainty that you will only get one or two better deals.

But once you visit the website, you’re hooked. All of these deals look great and the prices are much lower than normal. You can’t pass them up! So you end up taking advantage of tons of deals and buying way more than you intended.

Why did this happen? Why couldn’t you control yourself? This is due to a cognitive bias called reticence.

We greatly overestimate the degree to which we can control our impulses. In other words, we have less self-control and weaker willpower than we like to think.


The final key psychological reason why you’re hitting the Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday sales is because you’re reading this article. Here’s the thing: A lot of the news, ads, and social media posts surrounding Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday make it seem like everyone thinks about sales on those days and in search of good deals.

As a result, our minds encourage us to jump on the bandwagon of Black Friday deals and Cyber ​​Monday sales, a trend scientists call the bandwagon effect. When we see other people rallying around something, we tend to join them. After all, they wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t a good idea, right?


Loss aversion, reticence, and the bandwagon effect are mental blind spots that affect decision-making in all areas of life, from the future of work to mental fitness. By being aware of them, you can work to spot and address these issues.

For example, a useful strategy for Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday is to decide in advance what purchases you want to make when they are on sale, and buy them online instead of in store. For example, you might decide to buy a certain laptop when it’s more than 20 percent off, or a certain big-screen TV when it’s 30 percent off. Save the pages of the laptop or TV websites you want to buy, then visit them on Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday to see if they’re on sale. If it doesn’t, be disciplined and don’t buy anything else, because you’ll probably end up buying way more than you wanted to. Instead, wait for the Christmas sale.

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