Ways of Seeing

"The meaning of an image is changed according to what one sees immediately beside it or what comes immediately after it. Such authority as it retains, is distributed over the whole context in which it appears.... The real question is: to whom does the meaning of the art of the past properly belong? To those who can apply it to their own lives, or to a cultural hierarchy of relic specialists?...

The art of the past no longer exists as it once did. Its authority is lost. In its place there is a language of images. What matters now is who uses that language for what purpose."

~ John Berger, Ways of Seeing



This is an over-used favorite of behavioral economists:

What does the image mean?  Context matters.  We have this model that exercisers would choose the option that involved exercise (the stairs), but here is evidence that they don't.

So how do we help people make the best choices?  Nudges.  The summary of which is not to restrict choices but change how we present choices.

After this image made the rounds, someone put a sign at the bottom that said Stairs 10 calories, Escalator 1 calorie.

Suddenly, more people began using the stairs.