Yer Thing!

Posted on October 19, 2010

5



Peter: ” I read that we can’t solve the big problems in life rationally because we lack information about what’s going to happen in the future, problems  like choosing a mate, or a career, or buying stocks, or driving to work (for example we don’t know what the driver in the next lane is going to do). So if we can’t make rational decisions, how do we decide?”

Jenny: ” If your head can’t provide solutions, you have to rely on other organs like your heart, your guts and your naughty bits.”

Professor Wiggly: ” Peter, that’s an interesting question. And there’s a lot wisdom in Jenny’s flip answer. Researchers who study how we make decisions in uncertain situations – when we lack reliable information – propose that we rely on emotionally anchored beliefs, biases, and guesses. The key words are “emotionally anchored” – as Jenny says we rely on emotionally anchored stepping-stones to travel into the future. I’ll give you three examples of simple decision rules we use to make decisions in uncertain situations: when we we’re faced with incomplete or conflicting information we often rely on 1) the last thing we heard – the latest news, or 2) we rely on a ‘trusted’ source: a friend, an authority figure or ‘expert’ or 3) we rely on our gut feeling (e.g., love, lust, anger, etc.).”

Jenny: ” When someone is following their guts, or the their heart or their naughty bits it’s very difficult to influence them. It’s not a matter of changing their mind because their mind isn’t in charge – their minds are out of it. That’s why advertisers play on our emotions – they know that’s where most of our decisions are made.”

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