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Absent-mindedness

Reviewed by expert Scientifically proven

According to the dictionary, absent-mindedness is "the state or quality of being preoccupied to the point of forgetting normal, everyday activities". In other words, it's when you're so focused on one thing that you completely tune out everything else around you. For some people, this can happen frequently. And while it may not seem like a big deal, absent-mindedness can actually have some pretty serious consequences.

Table of contents:
  1. Examples of absent-mindedness
    1. Get the attention and focus of your visitors
    2. Overcome absent-mindedness during checkout
  2. Urgency
    1. Loss aversion
    2. Fear of missing out (FOMO)

Everyone has experienced absent-mindedness at some point in their lives. Whether you're preoccupied with work, stress, or something else entirely, it can be easy to forget normal, everyday activities. Absent-mindedness is defined as "the state or quality of being preoccupied to the point of forgetting normal, everyday activities". While absent-mindedness is generally harmless, it can sometimes lead to serious consequences. For example, if you're so preoccupied that you forget to turn off the stove, you could start a fire. Or if you're driving and not paying attention, you could get into an accident.

Examples of absent-mindedness

The term "absentmindedness" was first coined in 1894 by British psychologist James Sully. Absent-mindedness is characterised by a preoccupation with one's own thoughts or daydreams, to the point where one neglects external stimuli and forgets about their surroundings. Absent-mindedness can manifest itself in different ways. For example, someone may lose track of time while engrossed in a book or movie. Another common form of absent-mindedness is forgetting everyday items like keys or wallets. This can be especially frustrating when it happens regularly.

While absent-mindedness is generally considered harmless, there are some instances where it can be problematic. For instance, if someone frequently forgets to pay bills on time, this could lead to financial difficulties. Additionally, absent-mindedness can interfere with work performance or social interactions.

Get the attention and focus of your visitors

This bias is relevant for conversion optimisation (CRO) because if this happens when people are visiting your website you'll need and try to grab their attention again. A common example that's often used is changing the browser tab title.

In case people start to zone-out and start to do something else, without closing the tab of your website it's a great way to re-activate the visitors. You can even make the browser titles blink, changing the title every X seconds.

You could change your browser tab title to:

  • Funny: H'e, are you still there?
  • Pushing: 1 New message
  • Informative: [9+] New articles
  • E-commerce: This product name is almost yours

JavaScript code example

In case you're experimenting with this. Down below you'll be able to find the JavaScript code which you can use in your experiments.

(function() {
    'use strict';

    let isTabActive;
    let timeout;
    let origTitle = document.title;

    window.onfocus = function () {
        isTabActive = true;
        handleChange();
    };

    window.onblur = function () {
        isTabActive = false;
        handleChange();
    };

    function handleChange() {
        clearTimeout(timeout);
        if(isTabActive) {
            document.title = origTitle;
        } else {
            timeout = setTimeout(() => {
                document.title = 'H'e, are you still there?;
            }, 60000);
        }
    }

})();
}

The code above does the following. It changes the browser tab title after being inactive for 1 minute and being on another tab (both need to be true). If the visitor gets back to the website the browser tab titles changes back to the original title.

Overcome absent-mindedness during checkout

Another great way to make sure the absent-mindedness bias is by adding a countdown during the check-out. All of a sudden there is now urgency to buy the product. There have been great results with fashion webshops and ticket websites for this.

The countdown will tell you that you have 10 minutes to complete your order, during that time the products are reserved for you. After that time the products become available again. This urgency can be pushed during big sales, when a lot of people order at the same time.

Urgency

One of the biggest methods to increase conversions is by using urgency to your advantage. We all see a good deal or promotion that's going to get out of stock soon and feel compelled to buy it up sooner rather than later, whether it's rational or not.

Having a racing pulse prompt us to take action, either to prolong or to modify positive feelings or minimize negative ones. The way we re configured favors this. What's more, urgency also encourages loss aversion, which is exactly what was called the fear of missing out (FOMO). We want to take full advantage of an opportunity, especially when others are wanting it, too.

The service or product has to be usable, important, or valuable, or else the tactic won't work. If people don't desire what's being offered, promising urgency won't help.

Loss aversion

Loss aversion is the tendency to avoid losses. It is a powerful force that affects our decision-making. We are more likely to take action to avoid a loss than we are to take action to achieve a gain.

Loss aversion can lead us to make suboptimal decisions. For example, we may hold on to a losing investment for too long, hoping it will rebound. Or we may fail to invest in something because we are risk-averse.

Recognizing loss aversion can help us make better decisions. When faced with a decision, we should ask ourselves whether we are more concerned with avoiding a loss or achieving a gain. By understanding our own biases, we can make better choices.

Fear of missing out (FOMO)

Fear of missing out, or "FOMO," is a real phenomenon affecting people of all ages. But what is it, exactly? And how can you overcome it?

FOMO is the feeling of anxiety or insecurity that comes from thinking you're missing out on something fun or important. It's often sparked by social media, when we see our friends and peers doing things we're not. This can lead to a sense of FOMO, or even jealousy.

The best way to combat FOMO is to remember that everyone experiences it at some point. It's normal to feel like you're missing out sometimes - but that doesn't mean you are. Just focus on enjoying your own life, and don't compare yourself to others. If you're happy with what you're doing, that's all that matters.

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