So Tim Harford’s lecture at the RSA tonight was really good, a lot calmer than others I’ve been to there and less ‘RIGHT! lets do this and then take over the world and then..’ – he seems like a really nice person and by that I don’t mean bland, just that he seemed kind and thoughtful. Anyway peep this vid which briefly explains his book -
The premise seemed to be that in pretty much every area of our lives we make decisions based on rational decisions where we way up the pros and cons of any given situation – he looks at this with an economists eye and uses terms like supply and demand. It all felt very ‘of course’ but that could just be me as I’m quite aware that even things like going to the pub I way up the pros and cons (actually its usually skipping the pub when friends are there that I usually have to deliberate about).
Anyway he told this awesome story about an experiment they did – they got a bunch of students to come in and fill out a questionnaire – once they’d done it they offered half the students either an apple or some chocolate – most chose chocolate. The other half were offered the same again but they wouldn’t receive it until the next week when they had to come back and fill out another form – most this time chose the apple. Then the next week – the second half of the students were presented with the apple and told ‘or you could have some chocolate’ – most switched at the last moment to chocolate.
I thought that was a really nice way to show that we all have this latent rationality and given the choice to decide between 2 outcomes we will chose that which is best for us however cultural, societal or emotions can obviously sway our decisions in the present – what is better for me now – I want chocolate so give it me – what is better for me long term – health = apple – yeah I’ll have the apple next week.