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Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita...

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What’s in a name?
Imagine yourself in a fancy restaurant, scanning the menu for something to eat. You already know that you want fish, but which one? Now, let’s suppose you came across Patagonian toothfish. Would you order it? No, I didn’t think so. Nor, for that matter, did anyone else. Sales of this veritable “monster of the deep” had been disappointing for years. No matter how chefs prepared it, diners just turned their noses up and chose something else instead. Their eyes would continue scanning down the menu, looking for something that sounded, how shall I put it, a little more enticing.

Would the response be different, do you think, if they were to come across Chilean sea bass on the menu?It certainly sounds a lot more appealing, doesn’t it? The thing is, though, that these two names refer to one and the same fish! Sales of this currently sustainable fish have increased by well over 1,000%—yes, that’s three zeros—in a number of markets around the world (including North America, the U.K. and Australia). The trick was simple: just change the name. This is one of the most impressive examples of “nudging by naming,” as the behavioral economists like to call it. In fact, in no time at all, this fish started appearing on the menus of all the best restaurants, a trend that, even today, shows no signs of letting up.”

Charles Spence. Gastrophysics

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