top of page

Less Is More


Defaulting to searches for additive changes may be one reason that people struggle to mitigate damaging effects on the #planet.

An investigation looked whether people are as likely to consider changes that subtract components from an object, idea or situation as they are to consider changes that add new components.

It seems that people systematically search for additive #transformations, and consequently overlook subtractive transformations.

Photo: Lego setup:

You get paid $1 if you can renovate the structure so that it will hold a real masonry brick above the little Lego person’s head without collapsing. There is a pile of other Legos that you can use, but each one is going to cost 10 cents from your bonus. For most people, their first inclination is to grab some extra Legos and add three more bricks under the platform. About 60% of people pursue that solution under normal conditions. If you don’t jump to that additive conclusion, though, you may recognize that you could instead remove the existing support. The platform drops down and sits flush on the base below, still with enough clearance for Lego Guy. The subtractive solution is more efficient, but you only notice it if you don’t jump to an additive conclusion, which most people do.


You Might Also Like:
bottom of page