Tag Archives | Decision Making

Consciousness has less control than believed, according to new theory

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

San Francisco State University via EurekAlert:

Consciousness — the internal dialogue that seems to govern one’s thoughts and actions — is far less powerful than people believe, serving as a passive conduit rather than an active force that exerts control, according to a new theory proposed by an SF State researcher.

Associate Professor of Psychology Ezequiel Morsella’s “Passive Frame Theory” suggests that the conscious mind is like an interpreter helping speakers of different languages communicate.

“The interpreter presents the information but is not the one making any arguments or acting upon the knowledge that is shared,” Morsella said. “Similarly, the information we perceive in our consciousness is not created by conscious processes, nor is it reacted to by conscious processes. Consciousness is the middle-man, and it doesn’t do as much work as you think.”

Morsella and his coauthors’ groundbreaking theory, published online on June 22 by the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, contradicts intuitive beliefs about human consciousness and the notion of self.

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How we make emotional decisions

Craig Sunter (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Craig Sunter (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via EurekAlert:

CAMBRIDGE, MA — Some decisions arouse far more anxiety than others. Among the most anxiety-provoking are those that involve options with both positive and negative elements, such choosing to take a higher-paying job in a city far from family and friends, versus choosing to stay put with less pay.

MIT researchers have now identified a neural circuit that appears to underlie decision-making in this type of situation, which is known as approach-avoidance conflict. The findings could help researchers to discover new ways to treat psychiatric disorders that feature impaired decision-making, such as depression, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder.

“In order to create a treatment for these types of disorders, we need to understand how the decision-making process is working,” says Alexander Friedman, a research scientist at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the lead author of a paper describing the findings in the May 28 issue of Cell.

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It’s Poverty, Not the ‘Teenage Brain,’ That Causes the Most Youth Crime

Alan Cleaver (CC BY 2.0)

Alan Cleaver (CC BY 2.0)

Lauren Kirchner writes at The Pacific Standard:

While trading stories about the wide range of things that confused us when we were young children, a friend described how afraid he used to be of teenagers. He wasn’t afraid of any actual young adults in his life, but rather the capital-T teenagers he heard about when his parents watched the local news on TV every evening. It seemed to his nervous ears as though the police were always on the hunt for some devious, dangerous Teenagers who had committed some crime or another in his town.

Compounding his confusion was the vague knowledge that all of the adults in his life were once themselves teenagers. If being a Teenager necessarily meant committing crimes, then what had his parents and grandparents and teachers done in their day, he wondered? And how did they all seem to have gotten away with it?

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Why Do People Take Risks?

Stuart Caie (CC BY 2.0)

Stuart Caie (CC BY 2.0)

via Psychology Today:

If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?

Though this mantra of frustrated parents through the ages seems like a cliche, it touches on one of the central paradoxes of risky behavour: the existence of “risk gaps” between the kind of risky behaviour we would recommend for others versus the kind we engage in personnally. As one example, while nine out of ten drivers support laws banning texting while driving, up to eighty percent of the population has done it occasionally. The same gap exists for many other risky behaviours,  things that we know are illegal or dangerous but which we might engage in all the same. This can include impaired driving, not wearing a seatbelt while driving, smoking, etc.

Research into risky decision-making suggests that we are more impartial when asked to evaluate risk for other people than we are when we do these risky behaviours ourselves.

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The DisinfoView: Noreena Hertz

Noreena Hertz joins disinformation’s Gary Baddeley to discuss her new book, “Eyes Wide Open.” They discuss corporate personhood and the issue of rights without responsibilities, Lehman Brothers and the financial crisis, how and why the US government made the decisions that ended in the demise of Lehman and the bailout of other Wall Street banks, and how to make decisions amongst a deluge of information, not least from “experts” who may very well be providing misleading or plain wrong advice…

The official blurb for the book:

Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decisions in a Confusing World” is Noreena Hertz’s practical, cutting-edge guide to help you cut through the data deluge and make smarter and better choices, based on her highly popular TED talk.

In this eye-opening handbook, the internationally noted speaker, economics expert, and bestselling author of “IOU: The Debt Threat” and “The Silent Takeover” reveals the extent to which the biggest decisions in our lives are often made on the basis of flawed information, weak assumptions, corrupted data, insufficient scrutiny of others, and a lack of self-knowledge.

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Do You Make Better Decisions On A Full Bladder?

Photo: Filosofias filosoficas

Photo: Filosofias filosoficas

Will getting better at controlling your bladder also help you get better at controlling other impulses? Or do you just think really hard about anything else when you have to pee? Via Science Daily:

What should you do when you really, REALLY have to “go”? Make important life decisions, maybe. Controlling your bladder makes you better at controlling yourself when making decisions about your future, too, according to a study to be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Sexual excitement, hunger, thirst — psychological scientists have found that activation of just one of these bodily desires can actually make people want other, seemingly unrelated, rewards more. Take, for example, a man who finds himself searching for a bag of potato chips after looking at sexy photos of women. If this man were able to suppress his sexual desire in this situation, would his hunger also subside?

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Why So Many People Can’t Make Decisions

I wasn’t sure whether to post this article, or not … from the Wall Street Journal:

Some people meet, fall in love and get married right away. Others can spend hours in the sock aisle at the department store, weighing the pros and cons of buying a pair of wool argyles instead of cotton striped.

decisions

Source: Martorell (CC)

Seeing the world as black and white, in which choices seem clear, or shades of gray can affect people’s path in life, from jobs and relationships to which political candidate they vote for, researchers say. People who often have conflicting feelings about situations—the shades-of-gray thinkers—have more of what psychologists call ambivalence, while those who tend toward unequivocal views have less ambivalence.

High ambivalence may be useful in some situations, and low ambivalence in others, researchers say. And although people don’t fall neatly into one camp or the other, in general, individuals who tend toward ambivalence do so fairly consistently across different areas of their lives.

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