Rory Sutherland Rory Sutherland

Was the phrasing of the Scottish referendum question designed to create division?

Or was it designed to create far more division than necessary?

It is a trick which often works on children. Do not tell them to eat vegetables; instead ask whether they want broccoli or spinach.

Question such as ‘Red or white?’ or ‘Still or sparkling?’ are examples of placebo choice: a psychological hack which works rather like the placebo ‘door close’ buttons in lifts (which are usually not wired up to anything but exist to give impatient people the illusion of control).

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in