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Understanding irrational behaviors

What I love about Daniel Kahneman is that he's opened our eyes to the fact that just because behavior is irrational, doesn't mean we can't understand it. We CAN understand and control irrational behavior, and we don't have to control all of it... Just the part that's doing us harm. I recently discovered the writings of Chris Dillow, who's applying the principles to politics. What a relief.

Stumbling and Mumbling: Cognitive biases, ideology & control, 2016-July-3 by Chris Dillow

If people are subject to cognitive biases when they have big incentives to be right – when they are investing their own money – mightn’t the same be true in politics, where their incentives are less sharp? 

Some experimental research suggests the answer is: yes.

Some of these experiments have been done by Kris-Stella Trump at Harvard. She split money between subjects in different ways and then asked them what they thought would have been a fair division. She found that those who got a very unequal split thought that the fair division should also have been unequal. Those who got a more equal division said that a fair division would have been equal.

This suggests that as inequality increases, our perception of what’s fair becomes more unequal. That causes people to accept inequality. This is an example of a wider cognitive bias – the anchoring effect. 

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