what is the (subliminal) goal of a conversation ?

#15

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue May 16, 2017 2:01 pm

jimmyh wrote:Another prediction that "removing discomfort is the only motivator" makes is that people would never voluntarily endure discomfort unless it helped them avoid a greater discomfort. This prediction is pretty hard to uphold when you look at just *how much stuff* people will do that is uncomfortable.


Not that you need to have read Human Action Theory, but the above is exactly what I thought during the first chapter or two of reading his work. I thought, "How will he explain things like masochism or people running a marathon?" Mises received global recognition for his work. Do you really think his theory did not address the intentional acts of eating spicy peppers or using stun guns to play capture the flag? It does address such things as his theory does not exclude the impact of time and perception.

Here is the wiki of Mises and once again a link to a free copy of Human Action. If you even just glance at the wiki it might help frame the discussion. Mises was not anti comfort, good, positive labels. It was that he was developing an economic model that explains human action along a single spectrum. The opposite of discomfort is comfort, but early in the book he explains why he chooses to only use a single instead of dual labels. When something goes from negative to positive is often a subjective state when it comes to human action. When does pain turn to pleasure? How might the concept of time impact this judgment and therefore the action? Instead of trying to develop an economic model that denotes when bad is perceived as good, Mises chose to frame the model as human action being focused on removing discomfort/bad/negative, which conversely means creating comfort/good/positive without having to expressly state such.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_von_Mises

https://mises.org/sites/default/files/H ... tion_3.pdf

jimmyh wrote: Does that help?...So one class of differences that comes out is that people will do things that are ineffective and downright nonsensical in avoiding discomfort in ways that they don't do when chasing positive rewards.


Yes. I find this most interesting, I think this adds a lot to the discussion and makes me think. Specifically, the above discussion on a difference of actions where you posit that in avoiding discomfort there are sometimes actions that are ineffective or nonsensical whereas these forms of actions don't take place when chasing positive rewards.

I wonder how so? Mises fails to address the quality of action. He only states that the motivation or explanation of action is the removal of discomfort, but not that there is some difference in the quality of action along the spectrum.

I agree that there are actions that are more or less effective at removing discomfort, but I'm not sure how framing as positive makes the selected action effective verses avoiding negative makes an action ineffective or nonsensical? Might not a person frame it as positive, seeking a reward, seek to add comfort, yet take action that is low quality, ineffective, or irrational?

There is the idea of irrational exuberance and psychological concepts like attribution bias and the planning fallacy. These can lead to massive errors in judgment based on an inherent positive skew we attribute to ourselves. We underestimate how long it will take to complete a project or achieve a goal, we set unrealistic expectations and these can negatively impact results, i.e. we don't take effective actions even though we are seeking a reward and looking at the situation in a positive frame. Yet, researchers argue there is a benefit to being overly optimistic in that it helps in initiated action, i.e. if we were more accurate about our expectations we may fail to even pursue the project or goal.

I guess I'm mainly interested in the idea of "quality of action" being different based on degrees of freedom from point B. Thanks for adding that. I'm going to go back through Mises work and see if he addresses that concept and if so how.
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#16

Postby jimmyh » Tue May 16, 2017 9:41 pm

Do you really think his theory did not address the intentional acts of eating spicy peppers or using stun guns to play capture the flag?


Nah, I expected it to be talked about at least a bit. Not having read it or being familiar with the kind of recognition/criticism it got, I'm not really sure *how* I expected them to address it, because there's a couple ways I can see addressing it while keeping the same point.

Standard idiot criticism of economics #1 is that economists like to make simple models that don't capture everything and then ignore where it fails. That criticism is stupid because it doesn't take into account that economists are generally aware of the limitations and simple models work surprisingly well (and even when it's insufficient, it's often a good starting point).

However it remains *true* that economists like to make simple models which may miss some things, even if it's very useful and possibly satisfactory for economic purposes. Not having read it, I'm not going to put words in his mouth and I don't know whether he was trying to overextend the point or not, but I see a couple failure modes that make it tempting to, and I'm not sure I'd expect him or most other people to see them. I tried to (briefly) address why someone might think that this model extends further than it does and why the obvious explanations for self-inflicted discomfort don't actually hold up when you try to use it more than a "useful simplification".

I don't really have time to read the whole thing right now but I'd be interested if you could point me to the section where it's addressed. I'd also be interested if you could summarize his take on the "intentional discomfort" bit in a few lines.


I'm not sure how framing as positive makes the selected action effective verses avoiding negative makes an action ineffective or nonsensical? Might not a person frame it as positive, seeking a reward, seek to add comfort, yet take action that is low quality, ineffective, or irrational?

There is the idea of irrational exuberance [...] Yet, researchers argue there is a benefit to being overly optimistic in that it helps in initiated action, i.e. if we were more accurate about our expectations we may fail to even pursue the project or goal.


Yep. People often get irrationally positive about things and it causes them to make dumb decisions. Sometimes the reason for this is that they'd be even stupider and mess up worse if they didn't. Try this though: next time you see someone showing irrational exuberance, try shoving their face all the reasons they should be more pessimistic. I bet ya start seeing all the tell tale signs of cognitive dissonance that show you that they're running away from believing they'll fail. Sometimes people can be good at hiding what they're running from and it can be misleading what's really causing them to do dumb things.

If instead, the response you get is "well, *sure*. *Of course* I might fail. But if all I did was sat around moping about the possibility of failure I'd never get anything done. Look at the bright side: I might *not* fail!", then I'd be more likely to conclude that this person is genuinely pull motivated and while they may still show signs of the planning fallacy, for example, they're going to be doing it out of reasons like "really wasn't aware of this trap" (which is fixable with awareness in a way that isn't if they're doing this to avoid thoughts of failure) or "boss wants optimistic things to tell the customers"/"boss *expects* optimistic answers so if I were honest he'd believe we're worse off than we are" (which is actually a feature, not a bug, even if it'd work better if boss could expect honest answers).

Any time you know more than someone else in the relevant areas, it shouldn't be surprising that he makes mistakes that are predictable to you. It's when *he* knows enough to be able to predict his own mistakes and yet does not that it get's interesting. That's stuff I tend to see when people get caught up running away from things, but not when working towards things. The phrasing "folding under pressure" is a good one. Rope buckles easily in compression because unless you constrain the hell out of it, there's always a sideways to relieve the pressure. Under tension everything is pulled in line because the only way to relieve the tension is to move towards the goal.
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#17

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed May 17, 2017 6:08 pm

jimmyh wrote:I don't really have time to read the whole thing right now but I'd be interested if you could point me to the section where it's addressed. I'd also be interested if you could summarize his take on the "intentional discomfort" bit in a few lines.


Chapter XVIII: Action in the passing of time is the section where I believe he discusses the concept.

A straightforward example is chopping wood to provide heat in the winter and time frames A, B, and C.

Time frame A: The individual is at a certain level of discomfort, sitting on a chair and thinking about the upcoming winter. To chop wood or not?

Time frame B: An imagined discomfort of chopping wood.

Time frame C: An imagined discomfort of the cold winter.

Proximal (immediate) discomforts are typically weighted or rated higher than distal (delayed) discomforts that are in a distant future. The individual delays the discomfort of chopping wood (procrastination) until the perceived discomfort of the cold winter outweighs the perceived discomfort of harvesting wood.
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#18

Postby jimmyh » Fri May 19, 2017 11:10 pm

Okay cool, that's about what I expected, and makes sense for cases like that. Thanks.
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#19

Postby Iskilti » Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:25 am

In essence, you just took pain out of the equation and opened up alternatives not found in any of the four quadrants defined by axes x and y. ?
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