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How to Choose Happiness: Combat 5 Decision-Making Biases(e-c)practice [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2009-3-25 21:55:00 |Display all floors
How to Choose Happiness: Combat 5 Decision-Making Biases


Choosing happiness can be hard work, but the effort often pays off.


"Life is the sum of all your choices." --Albert Camus

”认识=Sum(你的一切选择)"---Alburt Camus

Happiness is in our hands if only we could make the right decisions in life. Decisions often rely on making accurate predictions of how we will feel in the future. Unfortunately for us psychologists have shown that there are five major biases in the way we predict our future emotional states.


The good news is that psychological research reveals that each of these biases can be countered. Understanding and remembering these five biases will help you make decisions that will increase your happiness.

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Post time 2009-3-25 21:58:09 |Display all floors
1.The distinction bias

What is it?


Imagine this: you are offered two jobs. The first is an interesting job that pays $60,000 a year. The second is a boring job that pays $70,000 a year. For the sake of argument, imagine that everything else is equal - which do you choose?


The distinction bias predicts that people will consistently over-estimate the importance of the $10,000 compared to how interesting the job is. Consequently, research shows that many will pick the boring job even though it makes them miserable and the extra money might well make little difference.


How to combat the distinction bias


Ignore conventional wisdom - comparing options directly is often too difficult because we're forever weighing up apples against oranges. Instead focus on the pros and cons of each scenario individually then make decisions on that basis.

   对一般看法置之不理 - 要直接比较选择往往会很难,因为我们永远都在将两个完全不同事物拿来比较。相反,针对一个处境(/选择)下面存在的优点和缺点进行单独关注,然后以(从中得到的)那个偏见做决定。

» Read more about the distinction bias.


   2. The projection bias

What is it?

Going to the supermarket when I'm really hungry, and without a shopping list, is a recipe for disaster. It will take an act of iron will to avoid returning without some kind of junk food. Later, after eating, I'll wonder how I could have bought junk food but forgotten healthy staples like rice and pasta.


Part of the reason people make mistakes like this is that research shows the projection bias anchors us in current emotional and cognitive states. The present is often like an emotional cage which we can't break out of to understand how we will feel in the future.


How to combat the projection bias


To make the most accurate decisions about what will make our future selves happy we need to be in roughly the same emotional state at the moment of choice. The bigger the difference in emotional state between present and future, the worse the decision will be.


» Read more about the projection bias.

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Post time 2009-3-25 22:01:38 |Display all floors
3.The impact bias


What is it?


People often overestimate their emotional reaction to future events. Studies have found that two months after a relationship finished people were generally not as unhappy as they expect. It worked the other way around too: sports fans were generally not as happy as they expected when their team won. Finally, academics both overestimated how happy they would be when given tenure, and also overestimated their unhappiness at being denied tenure.


How to combat the impact bias


First, consciously widen your future focus; remember that other events are bound to intervene. Second, remember that rationalisation tends to reduce the emotional impact of both positive and negative events. The future doesn't normally have such an extreme effect on our emotions (whether good or bad) as we imagine.


» Read more about the impact bias.


   4.The memory bias


What is it?


When making decisions about the future, we naturally use events from the past as litmus tests. Unfortunately the type of memories we retrieve to make decisions about our future happiness are often biased to unusual examples that are either very positive or very negative.


A study on subway travellers showed that people freely recalled their previous worst experience of missing the train. As a result they then predicted that if they were to miss the train later that day they would feel worse than did other people who had recalled less disastrous times they had missed the train.


How to combat the memory bias


Recalling more than one past instance of an event you want to make a decision about helps average out the emotion. Also, simply be aware that you are likely to recall the best or worst past example of an event.


» Read more about the memory bias.


   5.Belief biases


What are they?


Over time we build up many rules of thumb about the situations that make us happy (or unhappy). Unfortunately we often over-generalise these beliefs to situations where they don't apply.


Research has uncovered four common belief biases:


    *The contrast effect is the often incorrect belief that a good experience will be more enjoyable when it follows a bad experience (and that a bad experience will be worse when it follows good). Research on jelly bean tasting showed this can be a mirage.


    *More choice is often not better: Research with gourmet jams has found people can be happier, and even better motivated, when they have fewer options to choose from.


    *Adaptation: People often expect that repeated exposure to an experience will lessen the pleasure it gives. Research on ice cream, yoghurt and music showed that most people adapted to the taste, either coming to like it more, or at the very least dislike it less.


    *Certainty: People expect to feel happier when they have reduced the uncertainty in a situation. Often, though, mystery can increase pleasure.


How to combat belief biases


Research suggests the amount that we are swayed by each of these biases depends on how much we believe in them. So, just reading, remembering and believing (!) this post should allow you to combat the belief biases.


» Read more about belief biases.

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Post time 2009-3-25 22:02:17 |Display all floors
Following through on decisions


Even after conquering these biases, we need to actually follow through with the decision. This is where the happiness-seeking individual gets into trouble again... Read the second part of this article: 4 Reasons We Fail to Choose Happiness.

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Post time 2009-3-25 22:05:42 |Display all floors
4 Ways We Fail to Choose Happiness

There are two requirements for decision-making that will bring happiness in the future. First we need to know how a particular decision will make us feel in the future. To do this accurately we need to avoid the systematic biases that affect how we predict our future emotional states.


This is no mean feat in itself - the distinction bias, projection bias, impact bias, memory bias and belief biases are tricky customers.


Second we need to actually follow through with the decision. This is where the happiness-seeking individual gets into trouble again because even when we know what will make us happy, we still don't choose it.


Christopher K. Hsee and Reid Hastie from the University of Chicago point to the four main reasons that we don't follow through with decisions that will make us happy (Hsee & Hastie, 2006).

  来自芝加哥大学的Christopher K. Hsee 和Reid Hastie 指明了四个让我们无法贯彻那些将会让我们快乐的决定的原因(。。。)
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Post time 2009-3-25 22:08:20 |Display all floors
1.Poor rules of thumb

We each follow certain rules of thumb which mean that even though we know what will make us happy we still don't choose it. Here are two common examples:


    *Don't waste: We hate to waste money. Research shows that when people have double-booked an activity they will choose whichever one is more expensive, even when they know they won't enjoy it as much.

    *不去浪费: 我们讨厌浪费钱。研究表明当人们已经定重了一项活动,他们将选择价格更贵的那个,即便他们知道自己不会有同样多的享受。

    *Variety is the spice of life: Research shows people choose variety even though they know it won't make them happier. Often choosing what we know we like - the same again - is the best option for maximising pleasure.


   2.Slaves to rationality


We like our decision-making to appear rational; unfortunately decisions that appear rational can make us less happy.


Research shows that people prefer to receive a gift of a chocolate shaped like a cockroach over that shaped like a heart even though they know they'll prefer the heart-shaped chocolate. Why? Because they're told the cockroach shaped chocolate is worth $2 and the heart-shaped chocolate only 50c. It's more rational to choose the higher-priced gift - but it makes people less happy.


    3. Obsession with medium over outcome


We love to collect tokens of value, whether it's air miles or cold, hard currency. In fact, we love collecting the tokens so much we quickly forget what they're for. Research shows people will strive hard to obtain a medium (tokens or money) while paying little regard to what that medium can actually be used for.


4. Impulsivity


What's interesting about impulsivity for Hsee and Hastie is that it's exactly what the other three factors are trying to protect against. Rules of thumb like 'don't waste' as well as our obsession with collecting tokens (money) work against our impulse to spend. Similarly trying to appear rational is another way of trying to limit our profligacy.

  对于Hsee and Hastie来说,冲动有趣的方面是它完全就是其它三个因素所要防御的东西。像:“不要浪费”和对象征物(金钱)的收集是和我们花钱的冲动相互抵触的。类似地,要看上去理性也是另一种试图限制我们自己挥霍(冲动)的方法。
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Post time 2009-3-25 22:10:01 |Display all floors
Fool me twice, shame on me


The reasons we sometimes fail to choose happiness are straightforward enough. First we find it hard to predict what will make us happy and second, even if we can make an accurate prediction, we still don't choose it.


It's not the end of the world though. Clearly we do sometimes manage to make the right decisions, even if it is pure chance. Research suggests it's likely that being aware of these types of biases and lapses will help us fight against them.


Don't be fooled by what seem like trivial examples in some of the studies - they're all designed to mimic everyday decision-making. Also don't think that these are the kinds of mistakes that only 'other people' make. Almost everyone is convinced they are not like other people.


So next time you're making a decision that will affect your future happiness (and most decisions do), remember this post and don't make the same old mistakes again.


(the end)
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