People don’t make logical or even good decisions. They make contextually- based decisions…grown in flimsy beliefs – even when proven wrong….in advance of the decision… What we believe about someone else can be true or false…and what we think that MEANS can be pretty funny….
…and when you realize how life really works…you’ll see it a lot more clearly than everyone else…
I’ve done it.
You’ve done it.
We’re Influenced By What We Think Others Think
So often we don’t buy what we really want. We buy what the person standing next to us or across the counter might want to see us buy.
If someone tells another person you are a jerk, you could give out smiles and hundred dollar bills and the other person will see you as a jerk….that’s called “priming” and it’s pretty much all that matters in that other person’s perception of you. EVERYTHING you say or do is filtered through “jerk” and it will be hard for them to see you as anything but…
And if your pre-meeting advertising says you’re a great guy, you can screw up pretty bad and still be seen as a great guy regardless of your behavior.
It’s a heuristic…a rule of thumb…of our brain and how it works.
You and I are influenced by the perception of other people’s morality in utterly fascinating ways.
And what’s more amazing is that we are totally unaware of this as we go through each day…what we read in the newspaper instantly biases us…the TV commercial…even with the sound down…profoundly influences you and me both…it’s all peripheral and/or subliminal to reality…but it’s how everyone see’s the world…
Things can get even more complicated…
We’re wondering about what they are thinking…we have no idea how they have been primed to think toward us…by accident or on purpose….
And then…once we have a belief…we STILL don’t know what that person THINKS OF US when we make choices…so we tend to OVERCOMPENSATE in our thinking in strange ways.
Study Finds Perceptions of Moral Character Influences
How we perceive another’s moral character can influence the nature of our decisions and the neural mechanisms underlying these choices, according to a new study by researchers at New York and Cornell Universities. The findings, which appear in the latest issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience, run counter to the assumptions favored by many economists that individuals behave opportunistically.
In conducting a cool new study, researchers examined brain responses while participants performed a “trust game” involving two-person interactions in which mutually beneficial outcomes are more likely if partners are trustworthy and perceive one another as such.
What do we find out? You aren’t going to believe it…
Participants could either keep $1 on a given trial or transfer it to a partner, in which case the partner would receive $3. The partner could either keep the entire $3 or share half of it back. It was thus advantageous to transfer money to a partner who was expected to share, but disadvantageous to transfer money to one not expected to share.
Participants were instructed that they would be playing with three fictional partners and were given detailed descriptions of each partner’s life events indicating praiseworthy, neutral, or suspect moral character.
Participants were also told that their fictional partners’ responses would not necessarily be consistent with the descriptions given. In fact, each of the three fictional partners–“good,” “bad,” and “neutral”–was programmed to share half the time and keep half the time.
In other words, the guy might tell you that your partner is a jerk but he may not ACT like a jerk….
Despite having been warned that the fictional partners’ behavior might not match their descriptions, participants were initially much more willing to transfer money to good partners, and much less willing to transfer money to bad partners.
The people were just told that the guy might be Satan but act like an Angel and the people were STILL going with the LABEL that was given to the specific person…
KEY POINT FOREVER VALUABLE: LABELS PRIME THINKING
But after having completed multiple trials with each type of partner, participants reported correctly that the different partners seemed to be sharing at about the same rate.
In other words, the partners were all BEHAVING THE SAME. What was different was the PERCEPTION the person had about their partner at the BEGINNING.
$10,000 KEY: Strikingly, however, participants continued to be more likely to trust partners they were told were good partners and less likely to trust partners they were told were bad ones, even though they indicated explicit knowledge that the response patterns for the different types were the same.
So let’s make sure we have this right.
I tell you guy one is a jerk and guy two is a great guy. Then I tell you that they don’t necessarily act like who I’m telling you. THEN after they’ve acted IDENTICALLY, you trust the one I told you was (might be) good and don’t trust the one I told you was (might be) bad.
What does this tell us?
Suggestion is POWER.
In mapping participants’ underlying neural processes, the researchers discovered activation in the brain’s striatum–more specifically, a structure called the caudate nucleus–which had previously been linked to reward processing. The brain responses matched the patterns traditionally seen during trial and error reward learning (i.e.,differential responses between positive and negative feedback) only when participants were interacting with the neutral partner.
In contrast, activation was either weak or absent when subjects were playing with good or bad partners.
“It was as if the influence of participants’ prior impressions served to disrupt some of their normal feedback learning mechanisms and consequently affected their ability to adapt choices,” explained Prof. Delgado.
The study’s findings run counter to the self-interest model in economics.
“The self-interest model predicts that people should be skeptical of everyone,” Frank said. “Yet people seem reluctant to adopt that posture toward someone described as trustworthy, even when they know the description is fictional.”
PEOPLE SEE what they WANT to SEE. (What they have been programmed to see.)
KEYPOINT: According to Phelps, these findings suggest that “second-hand accounts of moral character can override the impact of first-hand experience of trustworthiness” as expressed in both behavioral choices and the underlying neural mechanisms.
In other words, once you have a belief…even with ample first-hand PROOF to the contrary…you’ll stick with the belief.
The study’s researchers were Mauricio Delgado, a post-doctoral research fellow at NYU, Robert Frank, an economics professor at Cornell’sJ ohnson School of Management, and Elizabeth A. Phelps, a professor of`psychology and neural science at NYU.
The research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Foundation, and Cornell’s S.C. Johnson School of Management.
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