Social Influencers

Social Influencers

Donald Trump frequently employs a rhetorical strategy built on the power of social influencers. We pay attention to what happens around us, and adjust our behaviors and even our beliefs relative to the groups that surround us. When we are around people who cuss a lot, we might cuss more. When we are around people … Continue reading Social Influencers

Predictable Outcomes

Predictable Outcomes

"In many domains people are tempted to think, after the fact, that an outcome was entirely predictable, and that the success of a musician, an actor, an author, or a politician was inevitable in light of his or her skills and characteristics. Beware of that temptation. Small interventions and even coincidences, at a key stage, … Continue reading Predictable Outcomes

Conforming to What We Think People Expect

Conforming to What We Think People Expect

This last election season was not a great one for political polls. The presidential election polls were off for the second straight presidential election, leaving many with doubts about the effectiveness of polling. Many state senatorial polls were also off, leading to expectations that were not met by the actual election outcomes. I spent a … Continue reading Conforming to What We Think People Expect

Pluralistic Ignorance

Pluralistic Ignorance

TV shows and movies frequently have scenes where one character has been putting up with something they dislike in order to please another character, only to find out that the other character also dislikes the thing. I can think of instances where characters have been drinking particular beverages they dislike, playing games they don't enjoy, … Continue reading Pluralistic Ignorance

Collective Conservatism

Collective Conservatism

Groupthink is one of the most dangerous phenomenon that our world faces today. Families, companies, and governments can all find themselves stuck in groupthink, unable to adapt to a world that no longer fits the model and expectations that drive traditional thinking. When everyone has the same thought processes and members of the group discount … Continue reading Collective Conservatism

Confident Nudges & Strong Opinions

Confident Nudges & Strong Opinions

Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler describe an experiment in their book Nudge where people were placed in a group in a dark room with a small point of light. Due to an illusion with the brain processing visual information, the small point of light appears to move slightly, even though it is stationary. The lead … Continue reading Confident Nudges & Strong Opinions

Self-Control & Environmental Effects - Joe Abittan

Self-Control & Environmental Effects

I discount the idea of the self more than most people. I don't think that it is useful to think about ourselves as definable individuals the way most people do, and as a result, I don't think self-control, discipline, and individual responsibility should be as prominent in our economic and political systems as we make … Continue reading Self-Control & Environmental Effects