The X Factor – A Case of Unintentional Behavioural Economics?

X-factor's Jedward Twins

Behavioural Economics seems to be a fairly hot topic at the moment, and so it should be in my opinion.

If you’re not entirely sure what Behavioural Economics is, Rory Sutherland explains it perfectly here.   If you have some spare time, or over your lunch hour I’d recommend watching it.

Whilst reading about all this, it struck me that X Factor had done a remarkable job of using Behavioural Economics.

I love the X Factor. I watch it religiously every week. My boyfriend hates it. He likes to think of himself as a bit of a musical authority and only likes “good music”, not pop.

Still, he watches it because I do (he he).

However, a strange thing happened last week. He voted, and he voted twice.

It’s the twins. He loves them because they are so bad, and they give him the incentive of upsetting the X Factor apple cart, and Simon Cowell along with it.

The terrible twins have given my boyfriend a reason to engage with the X Factor and spend money voting.

He’s not alone either. Twitter was full of Jedward supporters – they love them just because they are bad, and because they are so blatantly bad.

The X Factor must know there are loads of people out there who hate the show and only watch it because “they have to”.

But they’ve managed to engage them by pushing rather talentless clowns through the show, along with gifting these X Factor haters with the promise that Simon Cowell will leave the country if they win.

I don’t for one minute think the twins will win, the X Factor fans far out weight the X Factor haters I’m sure. But whether it’s intentional or not, the producers of that show have implemented a rather clever example of Behavioural Economics…


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