Breakdown of Will by George Ainslie

By George Ainslie

Ainslie argues that our responses to the specter of our personal inconsistency verify the fundamental textile of human tradition. He means that people are extra like populations of bargaining brokers than just like the hierarchical command constructions envisaged through cognitive psychologists. this angle is helping us comprehend rather a lot that's confusing in human motion and interplay: from self-defeating behaviors to willfulness, from pathological over-control and self-deception to subtler varieties of habit resembling altruism, sadism, playing, and the "social construction" of trust.

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They were lured into what the experimenters called “melioration,” taking what by itself seems the best choice without considering the bigger picture. Amounts are well defined and obvious, lending themselves to conscious scrutiny; delays are vague unless you specifically count the seconds. 13 Hyperbolic discounting is even more evident in lower animals, which shows that it isn’t some quirk of human culture. In scores of experiments, animals have always chosen rewards in inverse proportion to their delays – and, similarly, punishments in direct proportion.

For single moments we can model unity easily. The process by which diverse needs interact to produce a single decision doesn’t have to be different from the process that motivates a social group to reach agreement. Separate individuals can have widely diverse interests that conflict with the interests of others, because they have separate organs for reward that can act differently at the same time. One person can be tearful while her neighbor is rapturously happy, or seek out parties while her neighbor avoids them, without there being any necessary confrontation between these opposite choices.

12 Subjects working for actual cash don’t always show the temporary preference effect. The factors that determine whether they’ll show it or not have just begun to be explored, but the early findings are revealing: For instance, when subjects had to choose between amounts of money such that choice A produced a conspicuously larger reward than choice B, but choice A led to poorer subsequent payoffs for both choices, the outcome depended on an important detail of the design: Where choice of a larger amount reduced the amounts to choose between on subsequent turns, most subjects soon discovered the strategy of picking the smaller amount in the current choice so as to have better choices later.

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