Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why Isn't the Brain Green?

Via Decision scientists are trying to figure out why it's so hard for us to get into a green mind-set. Their answers may be more crucial than any technological advance in combating environmental challenges.

A branch of behavioral research situated at the intersection of psychology and economics, decision science focuses on the mental proces­ses that shape our choices, behaviors and attitudes.

We have many automatic biases — we’re more averse to losses than we are interested in gains, for instance — and we make repeated errors in judgment based on our tendency to use shorthand rules to solve problems. We can also be extremely susceptible to how questions are posed. Would you undergo surgery if it had a 20 percent mortality rate? What if it had an 80 percent survival rate? It’s the same procedure, of course, but in various experiments, responses from patients can differ markedly.

In analytical mode, we are not always adept at long-term thinking; experiments have shown a frequent dislike for delayed benefits, so we undervalue promised future outcomes.

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