Tag Archives: Behaviour

Permission to be an introvert

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An essay I wrote why it’s okay to be an introvert. I wrote it because I felt so misunderstood as an introvert and thought there was something wrong with me and needed to change. The more I researched it, the more I learnt it’s okay to be an introvert and the world needs them.

A Question of Altruism

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My latest question has come from reading the book Freakonomics. It’s all about how people respond to incentives and can be made to do just about anything given the right incentive. It’s based on the idea that people will try to get things they want with the lowest cost. There’s a chapter on altruism and much of the book deals with the fact that people do things for their own benefit. Acts like giving money to charity are seen not to be 100% selfless, because things like the warm glow and how others see you play a part.

Dictator

I liked the experiments of the Dictator where one person is given an amount of money and has the option of giving another person some, all or none of that money. If people were only about self-interest they would keep all of it, but most people gave about 25% of their money. Not necessarily out of interest for the other person, but so they will look good in front of the examiner or to have that warm fuzzy feeling for doing a good thing.

In a variation of this experiment, both people were given the same amount of money but only one person could choose if they would give some of their money away or take some of the money from the other person. In this case people often took money from the other person, so there goes any selflessness.

But when both people had to work (by doing some task) for the same amount of money and one person had the option to give or take the money, it was more likely that not as much was taken as in the previously mentioned experiment. This suggests we value it when people earn their money. 

Selfless or self-interested?

A real life example of when self-interest seems to rule over selflessness is when people don’t intervene when they witness abuse. There have been TV shows that show people walk right past a person being beaten up (staged by actors) or just stand round and watch instead of either physically intervening, saying something or calling the police.

Of course there are heaps of examples of people acting out of self-interest: cheating, stealing, murder, etc. And there are good acts that appear selfless, but I wonder how much of it is actually out of self-interest. Social pressure plays a big role in getting people to do the right thing as people try to avoid being looked down on. The advertising for giving money to charity often mentions the fact that anything over $2 is tax deductible, which provides an added incentive to give besides the warm glow of giving. A person can do a good act simply because they feel good when they live up to their own morals and can feel high and mighty about themselves. In this way selflessness leads to pride, which is definitely in the interests of self.

I wonder if it is possible when no-one is looking for people to take the selfless option. If there was a guarantee that no-one would ever find out that you stole a million dollars that was sitting on a table, would you resist? There would be no social pressure coming into the decision making, there would be no-one in the way of you taking it and no punishment. Who could resist? In a way you’d be stupid not to do it. Given those circumstances I can’t guarantee that I wouldn’t take it and I’m the ISTJ duty fulfiller and reformer so my moral standards tend to be as high as they come.

That’s why I’m not sure if people truly are altruistic. But with more thought I do think it is possible not to take it. But I’m not sure it would be for selfless reasons. If I wasn’t to take it, it would be because of my morals, because I believe it is wrong to take it. Regardless of anyone else I still have to live with me and I want to live up to my morals so that means I can’t take it. But this is all self-interest reasoning; it’s all for me and what I want and for my peace of mind. So I wonder if that’s the best we can hope for: altruism in the sense that people do the right thing because they want to do the right thing and therefore do what they want, i.e. altruism with self-interest but self-interest that benefits others. 

Law of incentives

I wonder if there is anything that could go against everything someone wants and yet they still do it for the sake of others. If you believe in the law of incentives: no, because at some point no matter how small, you do things because you want to. Even if you don’t want to do it, you see a good reason to and that makes you do it or else you wouldn’t do it. 

I have no conclusion. These are just my rambling thoughts on something I’ve been questioning. Intriguing!

The Value of Personality Tests

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I’m an advocate of the personality test because understanding yourself and others are always a good thing. Knowing your personality can be helpful for many reasons including:

  • You can understand why you do things, what motivates you, how you think and what you value
  • You can identify your strengths and weakness so you can develop both and especially use what your good at
  • You can work to change the things you want to improve
  • You can adapt, manage, develop and use your personality to get the most out of it
  • You can accept it and love it

I’m not about personality being a box people are put in and being something that is restricting. Personality is dynamic and the personality test is simply a tool to know yourself better. It allows you to know what you’ve got so you can work with it.

Knowing about personality also helps you to understand, appreciate and get along with people of different personality types. The first step is being aware that differences exist and the second step is understanding those differences. Conflict can be avoided by understanding how other people see things since we all think differently and value different things.

Get to know and love your personality but remember you are more than your personality, and personality tests will only reveal a part of your personality. Different tests may show you different things about yourself but there will be unique things about you that don’t match the personality profiles. No personality test will be able to describe or explain you completely but their worth comes from the amount they do explain.

Here’s a selection for you to try:

I know not everyone is a fan of personality test but they’ve been very valuable in my life. What do you think of the personality test and which ones do think are most accurate?

Stay tuned for a post about MBTI – the best personality test I’ve found that has helped me so much.

The Illusion of Attention

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Before you do anything and read any further, watch this video:

That was fun! I love these things that teach us about how our minds work.

I have to admit, I didn’t see the gorilla. I was so focused on getting the number of passes right. It turns out it’s not so shocking that I missed the gorilla, though. Across diverse audiences, under different conditions and in different countries, 50% of people didn’t see the gorilla. What is shocking is that I was sceptical that I could possibly miss seeing such an obvious thing, and I replayed the video just to see if it was true. Yes, the gorilla really did come on the screen, and I completely missed it; it was invisible.

I guess this isn’t really shocking, though, since 75% of people say they believe they would notice something unexpected even if they were focusing on something else. The illusion is not that we don’t see the gorilla (unexpected things); the illusion is that we don’t think we won’t see them. We might think we know our minds and how they work, but in this case, most of us are wrong.

This experiment appears in a wonderful book called The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons. Take a look at their website for more fun videos and information: theinvisiblegorilla.com.

This article comes from the first chapter of the book, “I Think I Would Have Seen That.” It speaks of “inattentional blindness” where our brains have a limited ability to pay attention. If we pay more attention to one thing, we pay less attention to other things; there’s no endless supply of attention. We can’t focus on everything at once, and even though we think we can multitask well, experiments have shown the more tasks a person does simultaneously, the overall performance of each task decreases.

Our mind is a limited resource. For example, when people were asked to count the number of aerial and bounce passes between players—like in the invisible gorilla video—while talking on a mobile phone, it was found they could still count, but it increased their chances of missing the gorilla. Increasing the amount of attention needed to go into counting two types of passes meant that less attention was available to notice the gorilla.

Now, apply this to driving while talking on a mobile phone. We can still go through the mechanical motions of driving—turning the wheel and pushing the pedals—but our attention given to the person on the other end of the phone means we’re more likely to miss unexpected events like a cyclist, pedestrian or even a car approaching or turning. This should be enough to convince us not to talk on the phone while driving. If you don’t believe this, you’re experiencing the illusion of attention.

Not convinced, read the book.

Cover of "The Invisible Gorilla: And Othe...

Cover via Amazon