By Dan Ariely
Behavioural Economics kept My puppy
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Additional resources for Behavioural Economics Saved My Dog: Life Advice for the Imperfect Human
KATHLEEN If we were going to design an effective superstition, this one would be as close to perfect as we’re likely to get. For starters, the cost of the ritual (looking into each other’s eyes) is low, and in fact pleasurable. On the other hand, the cost of ignoring the ritual is very high (five years of rotten sex). It’s certainly not worth risking such a large consequence for such a small, fun act. And like all good superstitions, the outcome in question takes place far into the future and is difficult to evaluate objectively.
As a second tool: when you receive a request, imagine that you look at your calendar to see if you can comply and you discover that you are fully booked that day without the ability to switch anything around—maybe you are out of the office. Now, try to gauge your emotional reaction to this news. If you feel sad, you should go ahead and accept the request. On the other hand, if you feel relieved that you can’t do it, turn it down. Finally, practise using one of the most beautiful words in English: “cancel-elation,” the glee we feel when something is cancelled.
P. S. This discussion on advice makes me wonder what advice I personally should take from these pages . . Decisions, Emotions, External Perspective ON THE GARLIC EFFECT Dear Dan, My daughter recently persuaded me to start eating two cloves of garlic every day. As a result I now feel more energetic and less stressed. Is it the garlic, or is it a placebo? —YORAM I am not sure about the real power of garlic but have you considered the possibility that the reason you feel so much better is that the people around you are now leaving you alone?