Friday, February 24, 2012

Thinking, fast and slow - Part V

I am done reading the book but it will be a long time (if ever) before i understand the terrific insights that it has provided. I have logged the stuff i liked while going through it on this blog, mostly for posterity. I intend to write my own thoughts and learnings some time soon.   

Few excerpts:

"Memories are all we get to keep from our experience of living, and the only perspective that we can adopt as we think about our lives is therefore that of the remembering self (not the experiencing self)."

An inconsistency is build into the design of our minds. When we remember an episode (be it painful or a pleasurable one) we neglect the duration and only focus on the most intense moments and the feelings we had when it ended. A memory that neglects duration will not serve our preferences for long pleasure and short pains.

A story is about significant events and memorable moments, not about time passing. Duration neglect is normal in a story, and the ending often defines its character. The same core features appear in the rules of narratives and in our memories of vacations. This is how the remembering self works: it composes stories and keeps them for future reference.

"Tourism is about helping people construct stories and collect memories. The frenetic picture taking of many tourists suggests that storing memories is often an important goal, which shapes both the plans for the vacation and the experience of it."

"Helen was happy in the month of March if -- she spent most of her time engaged in activities that she would rather continue than stop, little time in situations she wished to escape, and - very important because life is short - not too much time in a neutral state in which she would not care either way."

"A plausible interpretation is that higher income is associated with a reduced ability to enjoy the small pleasures of life. There is suggestive evidence in favor of this idea: priming students with the idea of wealth reduces the pleasure their face expresses as they eat a bar of chocolate!"

"Experienced well-being is on average unaffected by marriage, not because marriage makes no difference to happiness but because it changes some aspects of life for the better and others for the worse."

"I observed that permanent life circumstances have little effect on well-being and tried in vain to convince my wife that her intuitions about the happiness of Californians were an error of affective forecasting."

"It's like having ten toes: nice, but not something one thinks much about. Thoughts of any aspect of life are more likely to be salient if a contrasting alternative is highly available."

"Adaptation to a new situation, whether good or bad, consists in large part of thinking less and less about it. In that sense, most long-term circumstances of life, including paraplegia and marriage, are part-time states that one inhabits only when one attends to them."

"It does not make sense to evaluate an entire life by its last moments." 

"The central fact of our existence is that time is the ultimate finite resource, but the remembering self ignores that reality. It favors short periods of intense joy over a long period of moderate happiness."

"For behavioral economists, however, freedom has a cost, which is borne by individuals who make bad choices, and by the society that feels obligated to help them."

"The economists of the Chicago school (Libertarians) do not face that problem, because rational agents do not make mistakes. For adherents of this school, freedom is free of charge."

"Thaler and Sunstein advocate a position of libertarian parentalism, in which the state and other institutions are allowed to nudge people to make decisions that serve their own long-term interests." (as opposed to forcing them to do so)

"The voice of reason may be much fainter than the loud and clear voice of an erroneous intuition, and questioning your intuitions is unpleasant when you face the stress of a big decision"

Notes on previous parts: 1 2 3 4



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