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No.36 Zero Risk Bias

Zero-risk Bias is a tendency to prefer the complete elimination of a risk even when alternative options produce a greater reduction in risk (overall).

Zero-risk bias is based on the way people feel better if a risk is eliminated instead of being merely mitigated.

When presented with two options, shoppers will prefer the one that eliminates a small risk completely rather than the one that decreases a large risk exponentially because there is still an element of risk involved. This is because we have a cognitive bias that leads us to crave absolute certitude of outcome when we make decisions.

Irrationally, we prefer a few guaranteed benefits rather than the possibility of much more significant benefits.

When it comes to shoppers and shopping, zero-risk bias has numerous potential applications.

  1. 100% risk free - If you can attach a zero-risk quality to your products or services then customers are more likely to make a purchase - and to choose yours over other options that may contain an element of risk.
  2. Seeking the magic ‘0’ - When asked whether they would prefer the option that decreased risks from 5 to 0% or from 50 to 25%, people overwhelmingly chose the former despite the fact that the decrease in risk is nowhere near as significant.
  3. Charge for less risk - Present your products in such a way as to make them appear much more desirable due to the zero-risk bias. Offer two similar products, one that is better value for money but doesn't have a great returns policy and another that is much more expensive but offers a 30-day money back guarantee. Shoppers are more likely to opt for the more expensive option because they feel as though there is no purchasing risk attached.

Zero-risk bias plays on human fear of the uncertain. Because we all want to know our future. One which is filled with success, we try to eliminate all the known risks we can think of as possible.

About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

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Phillip Adcock
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

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