Decision and experience: Why don’t we choose what makes us happy? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 31-37

Center for Decision Research, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago, 5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.
Trends in Cognitive Sciences (Impact Factor: 21.97). 02/2006; 10(1):31-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2005.11.007
Source: PubMed


Recent years have witnessed a growing interest among psychologists and other social scientists in subjective well-being and happiness. Here we review selected contributions to this development from the literature on behavioral-decision theory. In particular, we examine many, somewhat surprising, findings that show people systematically fail to predict or choose what maximizes their happiness, and we look at reasons why they fail to do so. These findings challenge a fundamental assumption that underlies popular support for consumer sovereignty and other forms of autonomy in decision-making (e.g. marriage choice), namely, the assumption that people are able to make choices in their own best interests.

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Available from: Reid Hastie, Feb 10, 2015
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    • "Frequently, our sub-optimal decisions stem from inaccurate forecasts of the hedonic impact of various events (e.g., Hsee & Zhang, 2004; Loewenstein, O'Donoghue, & Rabin, 2003; Schkade & Kahneman , 1998; Wilson & Gilbert, 2005). The behavioural decision-making literature chronicles a host of biases and errors to which people are prone when making hedonic predictions (Hsee & Hastie, 2006; Loewenstein & Schkade, 1999), and hedonically inefficient decisions are a natural corollary of such inaccurate predictions. However, this raises an interesting question: " are there people who are better at maximizing their hedonic experiences (i.e., making themselves happy), and if so, who? " We believe the answer to this question is yes and propose that happy individuals, compared to less happy individuals, may be better at making hedonically optimal choices that lead to better hedonic outcomes. "
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    ABSTRACT: A previous study on the relationship between subjective well-being (SWB) and hedonic editing-the process of mentally integrating or segregating different events during decision-making-showed that happy individuals preferred the social-buffering strategy more than less happy individuals. The present study examined the relationship between SWB, social-buffering and hedonic outcomes in daily life. In Study 1, we used web-based diaries to measure the frequency with which individuals utilised social and non-social buffers as well as daily levels of happiness. Consistent with the previous finding, happy individuals utilised social buffers more frequently than less happy individuals. Interestingly, the utilisation of social buffers had a positive effect on daily happiness among all participants, regardless of individuals' levels of SWB. In Study 2, we found that although the use of social buffers yielded similar effects across groups on online evaluations of events, happy individuals showed a positive bias in global evaluations of past events. This finding suggests that how one construes and remembers the outcomes of social buffering may shape the different hedonic editing preferences among happy and less happy individuals.
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    • "Positive emotions associated with the continuous purchase of goods and services are transient. However, people systematically fail to predict or choose what maximizes their happiness (Hsee and Hastie, 2006) and keep pursuing goods (or the money that give access to them) on a continuous basis. The root of the motivation to pursue money is, therefore, a mismatch between affective forecasts and actual hedonic states – marked by rapid and unforeseen adaptation to material goods. "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this paper is to discuss a broader societal trend towards the full realization of human potential and the points of convergence with social marketing. The ultimate goal of social marketing is to increase social good. The paper defines social good in a new light and makes the connection to well-being clearer, proposing an agenda for social marketers and highlighting the opportunities for a better positioning of social marketing in the marketplace of ideas.
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    • "Solidarity: Unpacking the Social Brain ly, building a reputation may influence prosocial behavior (Barcaly 2010), but by and large prosocial behavior cannot be explained as a selfish strategy (Fehr and Fischbacher 2003, Hsee and Hastie 2006). It is even problematic to explain cooperative behavior as a strategy to realize social preference. "

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