Why do people get on planes?

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Or the reasons why we place our trust in complex things we do not technically understand.

The flushable toilet is not a modern invention by any stretch. It was first described in 1596, and began to appear in homes in the 1880s. Pretty much all of us will be fairly familiar with them.

I reckon we’d all have a pretty hard time explaining in detail how they worked though. Come to think of it, that’s true of many, many things in the modern world. And unlike the humble toilet, many of these we actually more or less entrust our life (or life savings) to with minimal technical understanding of how they work. Why?

Perhaps the answers are relevant to understanding psychology of trust generally.

(Or maybe this is just a good way to kill 20 mins)

I can see 7 possible reasons why we get on planes –

Own experience (I’ve taken hundreds of flights and never had an issue)

Mental model (engine, thrust, wings, lift etc. Vastly simplified, but yep, enough to convince me it works)

Others’ experience (don’t know anyone who’s had an issue on a plane)

Overall statistics (xx% of planes have crashed in last 20 years)

Herding/social influencing (“everyone’s doing it so how bad can it be”)

Brand (I trust BA or Emirates to run things safely as they have a brand to protect) …

It’s an ingrained belief we get from our parents (that planes are safe) that is never deeply questioned – but tends to get confirmed by methods 1-6 during our lives.

Which is actually the most important? I wonder if the last couple might be?

Some or all of these also carry over to eg. investing in complex products.

#trust #psychology #BehavioralScience

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