Mind Shadows Misconceptions About Happiness (Maybe You'd Really Rather Have A Candy Bar)

Hire An Expert: People Aren't Too Good At Estimating Their Own Feelings

Are you happy? Depressed? Sometimes one, sometimes the other? Do you want to be always happy? Is happiness more important than money?

Tim Wilson, University of Virginia, George Loewenstein of Carnegie-Mellon, and Nobel laureate in economics Daniel Kahneman of Princeton have studied emotional and behavioral prediction. They have examined decision-making processes that shape people's sense of well-being.

You may be temporarily happy if you buy a new car, new house, new suit, new shoes. You may get a lift from a job promotion. But it won't last. None of it. Not according to their findings.

This is news? Well, no, it's common sense. Jon Gertner has written a a book titled The Futile Pursuit of Happiness. So what did Gilbert write a book about?

He says that your imagination of a happy state is always greater than the happiness you achieve, whatever you do. Your expectation of how you feel is always less than what you experience after you remodel your kitchen or make some money on the stock market.

The same situation applies for unhappiness. You fear a divorce because the implications are just too awful to think about. Yet, should divorce happen, you discover that the setback doesn't last. Suppose somebody dies in the family. Yes, the death is crushing, but that, too, eventually is gotten over.

So the question is, What about decision-making as it shapes our sense of well being? Given what we think we choose, is the choice always for happiness? In short, how do we predict our future feelings? After all, that is what decision-making is based on. Mostly we want to have good future feelings, and avoid bad ones.

So people spend money to buy happiness. Basically, for consumer society, that is it. The economic engine would stop if people ever truly realized the old adage, Money can't buy happiness.

Research through experiments has found that people are not very good at understanding what will improve their well being. It seems that people make bad life choices because they have faulty estimations of their future emotional state. Overall, they are poor judges of future events, good or bad, which prove less intense and more transient than they predicted.

Of course, here the researchers couldn't delve into the epistemology and physiology of decision-making. They simply focused on experiments in observing and questioning people engaged in everyday tasks.

But does anybody really make a decision? Read Daniel Dennett, 15 December, Daniel Wegner, 12 December, and the 8 November article about Benjamin Libet's experiments.


Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

© 2018 Mind Shadows |