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Photograph of a train stopped at a station platform

Certainty behaviour

Ever since humans developed the ability to remember the past, and imagine a future that hasn’t happened yet, we have become obsessed with trying to figure out what we’re going to get and what the consequences of our actions and decisions will be. We are certainty-seekers.

If you’re still to be convinced about the human desire for certainty, ask yourself if you’ve done any of the following:

  • Enabled road traffic alerts on your car radio.

  • Carried out a little ritual based on a superstition, like touching wood or throwing salt over your shoulder.

  • Paid too much attention to polls.

  • Listened to pundits speculate on the outcomes of sports fixtures.

  • Written a letter to Santa, and then behaved through all of December – just in case.

  • Read published reviews of products before buying, for example on Amazon, What Car or in Which Magazine.

  • Asked friends for a recommendation, such as for a restaurant, a washing machine repair company, or a good nursery school.

  • Raced to board a train so you were sure to get a seat and have somewhere to put your bags (or reserved seats in advance).

  • Run to the boarding gate for an Easyjet or Ryanair flight so you got to sit next to the person you were travelling with, without having to fork out for priority boarding.

  • Used a satnav or Google Maps to help you get to where you need to be in time. And set off extra early if it was an important trip.”

Seems we all just want to know what we're going to get.

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