Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More on How We Actually Think

I quote from an article in The Economist:

CLEARLY, a person’s decisions are determined by circumstances. Just how closely they are determined, however, has only recently become apparent. Experiments conducted over the past few years have revealed that giving someone an icy drink at a party leads him to believe he is getting the cold shoulder from fellow guests, that handing over a warm drink gives people a sense of warmth from others, and—most astonishingly—that putting potential voters in chairs which lean slightly to the left causes them to become more agreeable towards policies associated with the left of the political spectrum. 
The latest of these studies also looks at the effect of furniture. It suggests that something as trivial as the stability of chairs and tables has an effect on perceptions and desires.
As I have posted many times in the past, we think with our brains, not just our rational minds. We are not conscious of all the processing going on in the brain, and indeed only the results of some of that processing reach the level of the conscious mind. Indeed, some of the processing is done at the chemical level as our conclusions are influenced by hormones and other physiological conditions.

I don't have any real insight into how to control for this aspect of thinking. I suppose that a group analysis of a situation and group decision making give some kind of average condition and may be less sensitive to idiosyncratic influences. It may also be important to make important decisions when one is not distracted, and to reexamine them later in different conditions before taking action.

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