Ogilvy Change have partnered with pioneering learning provider 42courses.com to create the first of their interactive online courses, where you can learn enough to be dangerous through Behavioural Economics. The course is made up of a series of films and fact-finding missions where participants can discover uses for behavioural principles in the real world and share their opinions with the 42courses.com community. Dan Bennett, Choice Architect at Ogilvy Change, is here to explain further:

In his famous book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll writes about a curious protagonist, sat bored on a riverbank. After seeing a white rabbit she decides to follow it and, as her curiosity gets the better of her, she tumbles head first into the rabbit hole where she suddenly falls, surrounded by floating clocks and random stimuli, before entering several doors - each leading down winding corridors. Whilst down in Wonderland, Alice forgets about her world and is fully immersed with no sense of time.

Similarly, the term rabbit hole has been adopted to describe many internet experiences including times where you begin with a topic and, through hyperlinks and related content, you're able to spend hours learning about it. This mental state of intense concentration and of losing oneself to a single subject is known to psychologists as the phenomenon called flow.

The experience of flow is a mixture of focussed concentration on the present moment, a loss of reflective self-consciousness, a sense of personal control over the activity and reduced concept of time throughout. It’s a beautiful space to be in and, during our busy lives, most of us seldom achieve it.

It was this insight that made us realise how the user experience of online learning can be so terrible. A large proportion of online learning content is simply lifted from chapters of books and plonked on the web. They dictate a linear programme of what you will learn and what you have to remember, becoming more of a wall to climb than a rabbit hole to fall down.

Many years of behavioural science will tell us that there’s a huge discrepancy between what we think we should do and what we actually do. Whether that’s going to the gym, writing a blog or taking an e-learning class. This intention-action gap, as psychologists call it, means that completion rates of traditional e-learning classes are often abysmally low. Founder of 42courses.com Chris Rawlinson explains, “e-learning is a bit like broccoli, we know it’s good for us but it’s just not that pleasant.”

It was this idea that started our journey with 42courses.com to create their first online learning course in Behavioural Economics. We saw a huge popularity for BE courses, but none which were designed to use how the brain likes to learn.

How can we create flow when learning digitally?
We started by pooling together the content we found most fascinating and then wrote the questions that begged to be asked. Throughout the course you won’t find the answers in the content given to you, only some hints towards rabbit holes of your own, with the answers hidden somewhere inside.

Once you emerge from your rabbit hole you’ll be asked to report back with your opinions and to discuss those opinions with other learners.

By the end of the course you won't have been served up a bunch of questions, you'll have discovered your own answers down a series of rabbit holes. We’ll have nudged you to the answer and you’ll have found out five more fascinating things along you way.

Why is this important to the marketing and communications industry in particular?
Although the course is relevant to anyone with an interest in the psychology of decision-making, there are particular benefits to those in our creative industries.

Rory Sutherland, the founder of Ogilvy Change and Vice-Chairman of the Ogilvy Group, explains “it’s really easy to go along with existing assumptions about how people think, decide and act which are fundamentally wrong.” Learning about what influences people’s behaviour is particularly interesting as Rory continues, “the highest definition of creativity is when you start noticing the false assumptions you’re making about how to solve problems. That’s generally the best form of creativity, it’s reductive not additive, it’s when you notice something you’ve assumed and you get rid of it.”

So, although we can't promise you a white rabbit or an adventure in Wonderland, you'll be sure to find yourself exiting your rabbit hole knowing more about Behavioural Economics than when you went in. Head over to 
https://www.42courses.com/ to sign up now!

By Dan Bennett, Choice Architect at Ogilvy Change leading the Behavioural Retail and Merchandising Practice.




Csikszentmihályi, M.; Abuhamdeh, S. & Nakamura, J. (2005), "Flow", in Elliot, A., Handbook of Competence and Motivation, New York: The Guilford Press, pp. 598–698