Have A Decoy.
Whether it be digital cameras, puppies, restaurant entrees, cosmetics or love, we all view things relative to the things around it. Take the image above for example; this graphic depicts the illusion of relativity. Although the circles in the middle are the same size, (you can measure them if you don’t believe me) when placed within the smaller circles on the left the circle seems bigger than when it is placed within the larger circles on the right.
Dan Ariely explains relativity from Predictably Irrational:
When Williams-Sonoma first introduced a home “bread bakery” machine (for $275), most consumers were not interested. What was a home bread-making machine, anyway? Was it good or bad? Did one really need home-baked bread? Why not just buy a fancy coffeemaker sitting nearby instead? Flustered by poor sales, the manufacturer of the bread machine brought in a marketing research firm, which suggested a fix: introduce an additional model of the bread maker, one that was not only larger but priced about 50 percent higher than the initial machine. Now sales began to rise (along with many loaves of bread), though it was not the large bread maker that was being sold. Why? Simply because consumers now had two models of bread makers to choose from. Since one was clearly larger and much more expensive than the other, people didn’t have to make their decision in a vacuum. They could say: “Well, I don’t know much about bread makers, but I do know that if I were to buy one, I’d rather have the smaller one for less money.” And that’s when bread makers began to fly off the shelves.
But enough with bread makers. Let’s now take a look at relativity and how a decoy would work in a completely different situation.
What if you are single, and want to appeal to as many attractive potential dating partners as possible? Simple: Bring a friend who has your basic physical characteristics but is slightly less attractive than you. People tend to compare things with one another but they also tend to focus on comparing things that are easily comparable – and avoid comparing things that are dissimilar. So if you’re Asian, 5’8”, slim build, and upscale-casually dressed, bring along another friend who is also Asian, around 5’8”, has a similar body-type, and slightly less well-dressed. If your best friend happens to be Caucasian, 6’2”, muscular, and wearing a sports jersey, he’ll do you no good. Why? Because the folks you want to attract will have a hard time evaluating you with no comparables around. However, if you are compared with a “you (-1),” the decoy friend will do a lot to make you look better, not just in comparison with the decoy but also in general, and in comparison with all the other people around.
There. Look awesome with no extra effort on your part.
And now that you know this secret, be careful: when a similar but better-looking friend of the same sex asks you to accompany him or her for a night out, you might wonder whether you have been invited along for your company or merely as a decoy. –Dan Ariely