martes, 6 de mayo de 2008

I shall no longer procastinate about these posts. Behavioral ecconomics and Cultural issues by Eduard Hall.

This really seems to be a very good option:

Procrastination. An article from Psychology today. Illustrative, so you can sympathize with me.

Behavioural economics is a discipline that tries to explain why people or groups take economic decisions and how. With a scientific approach and a persuasive rate of accuracy psychological elements of human behaviour can allow for the prediction of financial trends. Together with several other key elements the theories developed under this conceptual umbrella find applicability in several aspects of our practical life, allowing room to optimize the results of human activities. Efficiency is in lato sensu, all about economy. Its main difference with the standard economic science is the importance given to the rationality -or lack of it- of decision making processes. Intuitive and unconscious selections, that more often than not occur, cannot be evaluated without the interaction of cognitive psychology and sociology.
For example, when having choices to make, we often face dilemmas that marketing experts "rescue" us from: Do we buy the imported jar of French jam, covered with quality seals, organic, deliciously looking but pricey or the supermarket brand with extra sugar, massively produced, with artificial flavouring, on a lousy container and dead cheap? To solve them, we are offered more options, easy to conform with, comfortably: In between there will be a display of yet another 10 varieties of jam with different and even incomparable characteristics that are consciously set to show us what is the right choice to make. This is not excluding a persuasive arrangement that would convince anybody that the French jam is worth every penny and as a symbol of status, care for the environment and good taste we should acquire.
In other words, for added comfort, marketing strategies would spare us the hassle of a responsible selection of items by suggestively presenting us with their choice, in what usually, but not necessarily, seems to be a good compromise between the best and the not so good option. Tiresome thoughtful analysis is not conducted on daily basis and random choices are offered to us sparing us the hassle. For example, we would choose holiday packages, retirement plans, prepaid medical insurance policies, and mortgage arrangements on the basis of how well it is made easy to us, plus the added value of having plenty of choices to freely discern about. Even in a macroeconomic level, market forces might be influenced by the way in which cognitive psychology helps to assess conducts and trends providing good chances for experts to predict and produce desirable outcomes.
Spending money with credit card is actually more "expensive" but less regrettable than using cash. Even if in the long run the financial effects could be negative, the fact that guilt is delayed and the instant satisfaction still achieved is worth the trouble, that is for most people and better yet if given a number of ways to pay the debt back. Many other phenomena could be linked to concepts developed by this field of studies, procrastination being also one of the most popularly observed. Procrastinators are commonly unproductive, less efficient and often dissatisfied in their personal lives. They are also fully aware of it, which in turn deactivates their interest in pursuing responsible actions due to the increased self blame and loss of confidence that it implies and keeps generating.

Plainly put, B.E. rationalizes, among others, the human tendency to make stupid decisions at any price and act irrationally. Why we do not write to our friends more often? Why we do not start the diet before the beginning of next week? Why not to live a healthier lifestyle before it is too late? Why do we fail to complete plans that require perseverance and patience? Why so many work jobs that make them miserable? Why do we fall into commercial traps and purchase "bargains" that are unnecessary whereas we try to practice economy on what we really need (cheap is very costly!)? Etc..

However cogent these theories may seem I still remain doubtful about the existence of standards applied to human behavior: Could irrational behaviour really be predictable? Can Heuristics be equaled to irrationality?

So the post is not too long I will continue with CULTURAL CONTEXT matters tomorrow!

To read a bit more, find in the link an old article from The Washington Post on this.

A food blog with many good links and easy recipes by a Brazillian who lives in Buenos Aires HERE. Yes, unrelated, but useful!

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