Friday, 23 October 2009

So long as you've decided...

Sadly, I haven't time for a proper post this morning. But I'd like to share something that popped up via slashdot:
Professor Ariely describes some experiments which demonstrated something he calls “arbitrary coherence”.  Basically it means that once you contemplate a decision or actually make a decision, it will heavily influence your subsequent decisions.  That’s the coherence part.  Your brain will try to keep your decisions consistent with previous decisions you have made.
The author goes on to describe how even basing an initial decision  on random data (in this case, the last two digits of their soc. number) strongly influences subsequent decisions. It goes back to the whole cognitive bias of `Well, it doesn't matter if you made a bad decision, so long as you made a decision.`


dragonfly said...

That's a really fascinating subject, thank you for linking the article :)

gpc said...

Interesting. I watched a similar pattern when my mother had advanced dementia. She would misinterpret some experience (the sound of the wind, the laugh of a nurse, a photo) and then, for quite some time, base all her memories and conversation on the initial incorrect assumption. When we were with her, we could sometimes steer the initial reaction into something positive instead of into the paranoia that came more readily to her, and by doing so we could create a 'good' day. The trick was to figure out what obscure thing had grabbed her attention before she made a negative connection. Brain stuff is amazing and sometimes more than a little scary.