Una conferma dell'influenza delle percezioni inconsce sui processi decisionali viene da uno dei pochi studi sperimentali ad affrontare il problema. Dall'analisi dei dati risulta che le informazioni raccolte in modo inconscio possono aumentare o diminuire la precisione e la velocità delle nostre decisioni, ma quelle di cui siamo consapevoli hanno un peso maggiore. Le informazioni elaborate inconsciamente possono influenzare – nel bene e nel male - la precisione delle nostre decisioni, ma "pesano" meno di quelle di cui si è consapevoli. A darne una conferma sperimentale è una ricerca condotta da psicologi dell'University of New South Wales, in Australia, che firmano un articolo pubblicato sui “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”.
You can tell a lot about a person by how they react to other people’s happiness and success.
For many, we seem to get easily threatened when we see other people doing better than us in some area in life. We find it hard to be happy for them, but instead we have feelings of jealousy and envy.
I remember when I was young and whenever I used to see my peers succeed at something – whether it be grades, sports, relationships, jobs, etc. – I used to always try to downplay it. Good grades? “Lonely nerd.” Good at sports? “Dumb jock.” Good job? “Sold his soul to corporate America.”
But the root of all jealousy is ultimately low self-esteem.
I’d see a friend’s band play a show and I would think, “They aren’t really that good. They make boring music. I could do better.” But the truth is that it was better than anything I could’ve done at the time. I was just protecting my ego from getting too hurt.
There are experts, and then there's everybody else. In finance, experts have studied the subject and follow the markets closely, so you'd expect that they'd be superior at betting on the stock market as well as on other financial matters, right? Well, perhaps not so much. As the psychologist Philip Tetlock—who did a20-year study on the subject—famously said: Experts are poorer at predictions than dart-throwing monkeys.
Study after study has shown that low-cost index funds—investments that track major financial market indices—outperform "actively managed" mutual funds. The question of mutual-fund managers' uselfullness is hotly debated, with one study showing that only 24 percent of professional investors beat the market in the long run. If studies don't convince you, perhaps Warren Buffett will: The "Oracle of Omaha" himself recommends low-cost index funds.
A new study spells more bad news for mutual-fund managers. It looks at 84 mutual-fund managers in Sweden and how they do when it comes to their own finances. This is the first study to look directly at fund managers' stock portfolios, real-estate ownership, total wealth, and personality in order to study whether extensive knowledge and day-to-day interaction with the stock market improves one's personal wealth
compare opinion polls about controversial topics to reality. From Ipsos MORI:
"A new survey by Ipsos MORI for the Royal Statistical Society and King’s College London highlights how wrong the British public can be on the make-up of the population and the scale of key social policy issues. The top ten misperceptions are:
Drinking this could reduce your brain age twenty years in just three months.Cocoa flavanoids — like those contained in a cup of cocoa — can reverse age-related memory loss in older adults, a new study finds. This is the first direct evidence that an important component of memory decline that comes with age can be improved with a simple dietary change. Typically, normal age-related memory declines are noticeable to people in their fifties and sixties: things like forgetting where the keys are or having trouble recalling a name or word. These changes are much less severe than those which typically occur as a result of devastating dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.
Just out these days, our recent paper in the journal Social Neuroscience is about how empathy can drive choices in social dilemmas. In this study, we use both behavioural economics and fMRI scanning to explore how individual differences in empathic ability can affect social behaviours.
This is described in the abstract:
Empathy was related to specific engagement of the mentalising network of the brain.
“Decision-making in social dilemmas is suggested to rely on three factors: the valuation of a choice option, the relative judgment of two or more choice alternatives, and individual factors affecting the ease at which judgments and decisions are made. Here, we test whether empathy—an individual’s relative ability to understand others’ thoughts, emotions, and intentions—acts as an individual factor that alleviates conflict resolution in social decision-making. We test this by using a framed, iterated prisoners’ dilemma (PD) game in two settings. In a behavioral experiment, we find that individual differences in empathic ability (the Empathy Quotient, EQ) were related to lower response times in the PD game, suggesting that empathy is related to faster social choices, independent of whether they choose to cooperate or defect. In a subsequent neuroimaging experiment, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we find that EQ is positively related to individual differences in the engagement of brain structures implemented in mentalizing, including the precuneus, superior temporal sulcus, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These results suggest that empathy is related to the individual difference in the engagement of mentalizing in social dilemmas and that this is related to the efficiency of decision-making in social dilemmas.”
One way to understand a nudge—a government policy that inclines you to make a particular choice, often without your awareness—is that it makes it easier for you to do what you really would have wanted despite your fallible human nature. But how do you know what you really want? You want to lose weight but you had that candy bar instead of an apple. You want to save money but you went ahead and ordered that new Kindle even though your old one still works. You want to recycle but you threw that plastic bottle in the trash. Familiar as it is, the sense that I did something that I didn't want to do is quite strange. After all, you did it. That's good evidence you wanted to. Your argument that you didn't suggests that you have a true self which was temporarily overruled by a lesser version of you. How do you know that the regretful one is the real you? Wanting to perfect yourself is all well and good, as D.H. Lawrence once wrote, but "every man as long as he remains alive is in himself a multitude of conflicting men." Which of these do you choose to perfect, at the expense of every other?"
Behavioral economists, and the officials who use their work to make laws and rules, have often described this sense of wanting one thing but doing another as a failure to understand that the future is as real as the present. The problem is supposed to be that your emotions and biases make you see the moment today as more important than the years to come. Thus, you have regrets because you "discount the future" in a moment of weakness, and then see your mistake when your head is clear. Many behavioral interventions (like this one) are designed to make the future feel as important as the present. The assumption here is that the you who is future-oriented is a better, truer version of you.
Behavioural economics posits that all behaviour, including in business, is shaped by irrational and unconscious influences.
Behavioural economics posits that all human behaviour, including in business, is shaped by irrational and unconscious influences, such as bias, social pressure and cognitive inertia. The notion of psychology as a driver of economic action is not new: As an academic discipline behavioural economics dates back to the 1970s, and the foundational principle back at least to Adam Smith’sThe Theory of Moral Sentiments Behavioural economics has, however, only in recent years found widespread currency within the business world, spurred by a plethora of bestsellers, including Thinking Fast and Slow (2011) by Daniel Kahneman and Predictably Irrational (2oo8) by Dan Ariely. Increased interest from the business community is due to the insights gleaned from the discipline, which have been used to successfully “nudge” customer behaviour in a variety of sectors, such as wealth management, insurance, customer products and retail. Specifically, behavioural economics has been used by product managers to guide consumers toward certain product choices (i.e., “choice design”), by marketers to develop brochures and Web sites that more persuasively communicate marketing messages and by service managers to design better support experiences. The field can provide hundreds of potential “triggers” to augment behaviour, depending on the business objective, situation and context. Psychologists Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin identify 50 different possible applications in The Small Big: Small Changes That Spark Big Influence (2014).Three among the list include: Leverage social proof:People will make the same decisions as a group with which they identify. Nudge people to adopt a new behavior by showing them a training video featuring their peers doing the same thing.Invoke first names: Get and keep people’s attention by frequently using their first name. A sales representative’s repeated use of a prospect’s name will cue their attention through the clutter of other sensory inputs and focus attention on the key message.The power of loss avoidance:</strong> Individuals strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Marketing studies have shown that consumers would rather avoid a $5 surcharge then get a $5 discount even though the net effect is the same. Case study: behavioural economics in action.
I bias cognitivi sono automatismi mentali che ci portano a giudicare e a decidere in fretta e senza fatica. Peccato che decisioni e giudizi siano sbagliati.
Alessandro Cerboni's insight:
é dimostrato che questa visione negativa dei bias cognitivi è dovuta solo all'averli rilevati quando sbagliano, gli studiosi che affermano questo non considerano il numero superiore di casi in cui certi bias agiscono in modo corretto.
Jonathan Freeman, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, leads the four-year CEEDs project, which has created an ‘eXperience Induction Machine’ (XIM). The XIM helps humans navigate vast amounts of complex information, using virtual reality and wearable sensors that track brain waves, heart rate and other responses.
‘It turns out that only a small subset of sensory input reaches conscious awareness, yet the remainder is still processed by the brain,’ said Prof. Freeman. ‘This subconscious processing is very good at detecting novel patterns and meaningful signals. By unlocking the power of the subconscious, CEEDs will make fundamental contributions to human experience.’
The XIM machine, which was developed in the lab of CEEDs’ scientific director Professor Paul Verschure in Barcelona, consists of an immersive room equipped with speakers, projectors, projection screens, pressure-sensitive floor tiles, infrared cameras and a microphone. Data visualisations are displayed on the screen and the person’s response is monitored through sensors embedded in a headset.
For the last four centuries, physics became the pre-eminent natural science. Now it is widely believed that biology will replace physics in prominence. However, systematic efforts to develop a science of theoretical biology on a par with modern theoretical physics in depth and explanatory power have failed. In this paper, we introduce the most promising effort to achieve a fundamental theory of biology, the framework of Ervin Bauer, which includes three requirements for life. The universal principle of biology, which is Bauer’s principle, is introduced and presented in mathematical form. Because he was able to derive all fundamental life phenomena from this single principle, we propose that Bauer’s principle is the first and foundational principle of biology. It can play a central role in biology similar to the one played in physics by the least action principle. We posit that this new picture will open the possibility to achieve an exact theoretical biology. Expanding the conceptual framework of theoretical physics in the most suitable way that is necessary and sufficient for an exact theoretical biology is a challenging task. We also clarify some significant conceptual difficulties of Bauer’s requirements in the context of modern biology, and we fundamentally connect Bauer’s theory to quantum physics. In conclusion, we strongly believe that the only version of modern theoretical biology capable of following in the footsteps of modern physics is Bauer’s theory.
Why do we remember some things and not others? In a unique imaging study, two Northwestern University researchers have discovered how neurons in the brain might allow some experiences to be remembered while others are forgotten. It turns out, if you want to remember something about your environment, you better involve your dendrites.
Using a high-resolution, one-of-a-kind microscope, Daniel A. Dombeck and Mark E. J. Sheffield peered into the brain of a living animal and saw exactly what was happening in individual neurons called place cells as the animal navigated a virtual reality maze.
The scientists found that, contrary to current thought, the activity of a neuron’s cell body and its dendrites can be different. They observed that when cell bodies were activated but the dendrites were not activated during an animal’s experience, a lasting memory of that experience was not formed by the neurons. This suggests that the cell body seems to represent ongoing experience, while dendrites, the treelike branches of a neuron, help to store that experience as a memory.
The trouble with ignorance is that it feels so much like expertise. A leading researcher on the psychology of human wrongness sets us straight.
The trouble with ignorance is that it feels so much like expertise. A leading researcher on the psychology of human wrongness sets us straight.
Last March, during the enormous South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, the late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! sent a camera crew out into the streets to catch hipsters bluffing. “People who go to music festivals pride themselves on knowing who the next acts are,” Kimmel said to his studio audience, “even if they don’t actually know who the new acts are.” So the host had his crew ask festival-goers for their thoughts about bands that don’t exist.
“The big buzz on the street,” said one of Kimmel’s interviewers to a man wearing thick-framed glasses and a whimsical T-shirt, “is Contact Dermatitis. Do you think he has what it takes to really make it to the big time?”
Brains, Minds and Machines Symposium, May, 2011, at MIT. Keynote Panel: The Golden Age A Look at the Original Roots of Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, and Neuroscience? Panel: Emilio Bizzi , Sydney Brenner , Noam Chomsky, Marvin Minsky , Barbara H. Partee , Patrick H. Winston Moderator: Steven Pinker
Concepts of rationalityThe main point of this lecture is to give a working definition of what we mean by rationality in Economics. This is a complex construct with many potential meanings across a wide range of literatures. In Economics we generally tend to mean that decision makers are consistent in their behaviour rather than to question their motivations. The basic microeconomic models of the consumer generally assume rational utility maximising behaviour.
Abstract Previous research on the processes involved in risky decisions has rarely linked process data to choice directly. We used a simple measure based on the relative amount of attentional deployment to different components (gains/losses and their probabilities) of a risky gamble during the choice process, and we related this measure to the actual choice. In an experiment we recorded the decisions, decision times, and eye movements of 80 participants who made decisions on 11 choice problems. We used the number of eye fixations and fixation transitions to trace the deployment of attention during the choice process and obtained the following main results. First, different components of a gamble attracted different amounts of attention depending on participants’ actual choice. This was reflected in both the number of fixations and the fixation transitions. Second, the last-fixated gamble but not the last-fixated reason predicted participants’ choices. Third, a comparison of data obtained with eye tracking and data obtained with verbal protocols from a previous study showed a large degree of convergence regarding the process of risky choice. Together these findings tend to support dimensional decision strategies such as the priority heuristic. Keywords: risky choice, attention, decision making, eye tracking, heuristics, process tracing, verbal protocols, think-aloud protocols
Social Media has rapidly grown in importance as a forum for political activism in its different forms. Social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube provide new ways to stimulate citizen engagement in political life, where elections and electoral campaigns have a central role.
Although the presence of social media is spreading and media use patterns are changing, online political engagement is largely restricted to people already active in politics and on the Internet. Other audiences are less responsive. For example, television news together with print and online newspapers are still the most important sources of political information in most EU Member States.
Social media has reshaped structures and methods of contemporary political communication by influencing the way politicians interact with citizens and each other. However, the role of this phenomenon in increasing political engagement and electoral participation is neither clear nor simple. The upcoming European Parliament elections in May will give an indication of the impact of social media in European wide elections with national and European dimension
What impact is behavioural science having on politics and business? Simplified disclosure, default rules, social norms, and ‘choice architecture’ are all being used to steer people in specific directions. Are these ‘nudges’ improving our decisions? Are they offsetting irrational behaviour? Cass Sunstein, author of Nudge and the previous Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration will discuss these new policies and the question they raise about freedom of choice.
Cass Sunstein (@CassSunstein) is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School.
The worst-ever outbreak of Ebola — a hemorrhagic fever that has in the past killed nine out of 10 people that contract it — is raging through the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, with consequences so dire that the Liberian Minister of Defense characterized it as “… spreading like wildfire, devouring everything in its path.”
In this so-called Hot Zone, a term made famous by the 1994 book, more than 2,000 Africans of all ages and from various socioeconomic backgrounds have already died, and the World Health Organization estimates that as many as 20,000 fatalities might occur before the epidemic is contained. Both the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s head, Tom Frieden, and the operations director of Doctors without Borders, Bart Janssens, have described the situation as “out of control.”
One reason why it has been so difficult to tackle the Ebola crisis is fear, which prevents healthcare workers from grappling effectively with the situation. Fear can hobble an organization; for instance, recent research shows that at Nokia, fear led to paralysis, isolating the headquarters from the marketplace and rendering it unable to respond to a fast-changing situation.
Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.” The third volume of Anaïs Nin’s diaries has been on heavy rotation in recent weeks, yielding Nin’s thoughtful and timeless meditations on life,mass movements, Paris vs. New York, what makes a great city, and the joy of handcraft. The subsequent installment, The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947 (public library) is an equally rich treasure trove of wisdom on everything from life to love to the art of writing. In fact, Nin’s gift shines most powerfully when she addresses all of these subjects and more in just a few ripe sentences. Such is the case with the following exquisite letter of advice she sent to a seventeen-year-old aspiring author by the name of Leonard W., whom she had taken under her wing as creative mentor.
Harvey says he was inspired by a 2005 study that shook the medical community when it proclaimed that more than half of all medical study findings are wrong. He wanted to know if that was true in the area of finance as well.
He and his co-authors studied 315 papers that examine different factors that might predict returns on stocks. Those papers propose all sorts of different potentially predictive variables, like leverage and price-to-earning ratios.
He uses genetic testing as a way of explaining.Scientists wanting to find the gene that causes or is related to a particular disease might test lots of genes. For any one gene-disease test, the odds that a statistical relationship between the two is a pure coincidence are low. But as you test more and more hypotheses, the odds of finding a "statistically significant" relationship that has no causal basis get higher and higher.
The Growth Vouchers programme is a pioneering government research project, and the largest Randomised Controlled Trial of its type, that aims to make it easier for small businesses to access expert advice to help them grow and test which types of business advice are most effective. The Behavioural Insights Team have worked with the department for Business, Innovation and Skills to develop this programme and to design its evaluation.
The Growth Vouchers programme will run until March 2015 to attract around 20,000 small businesses that do not normally use advice. Vouchers worth up to £2,000 each will be given to a majority of the small businesses who take part to help them pay for advice.
This programme will operate as a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT), which will enable the government to obtain a robust assessment of the impact of different types of advice on participating businesses. RCTs are widely regarded as the gold standard for empirical research and are used extensively in medicine and international development. This is the first time that an RCT has been run on this scale to explore what business advice works best.
The Growth Vouchers programme will produce real and comprehensive evidence, while providing benefits for the businesses who take part. This evidence will be used to inform future policy.
Walter Mischel, author of one of the most famous psych experiments of all time – the ‘marshmallow test’ of self-control – and with a wonderful newbook summarising his work, dropped into BIT for lunch on Friday.
Walter’s work showed that the child who ate the treat, instead of waiting a few extra minutes for two treats, would later tend to do worse at school, the labour market, and in life in general. But he thinks that many people, particularly in the wider political and policy world, took away the wrong message from these dramatic headline results. In the decades of work that followed his early studies, Mischel became one of the leading critics of the ‘fixed personality view’ that became popular with the advent of psychometrics in the 60’s and 70’s (think Eysenk in the UK, Cattell et al in the USA). Walter points to the evidence on brain plasticity and epigenetics of the last two decades as having confirmed the capacity of people to learn and change, and particularly to rapidly sharpen their executive function (EF) and self-control through practice. He argues that the real lesson of epigenetics, and his own early work, is that the human genome is more like a library than a fixed script, and that situational forces and personal choices greatly affect which ‘book’, or capability, we take out over any period.