Paul Makepeace ;-)

October 26, 2004

It's all relative

Posted in: Drivel

A muse on adaption to circumstance.

Last night I headed over to 491 Gallery to check out their space for a party. This involved a ride from Shoreditch E1 to Leytonstone E11, a trip I'm really familiar with and have covered regularly since I used to live about half a km from 491 for about a year and a half.

What was interesting was how quick I perceived the journey to be.

Contrasting with my memory of it being as you'd expect "the usual", with occasional bitching to myself about how far it was. The ride last night took less than 25 mins, and I wasn't particularly hammering it. At the end I thought "ooh, that was quick, what was I bitching about?" Now I live on the other side of London in SW18 which is quite a bit further into town than E11, ~15km. I am used to that now and merely occasionally bitch to myself about it.

When I was living in Reading and commuting to Oxford St in London which could take 2hrs on a bad day I got used to that (I also slept on the couch at work quite a lot), and would occasionally bitch to myself about it. Whereas now the thought of a 2hr commute, even a one hour commute, appalls me.

So at the same time as we resist change we seem to get used to our situation and accept it as normal remarkably easily. I have a suspicion this is a big part of explaining why we remain in our social positions as entrenchedly as we do. There is resistance to moving up or down (comfort zone) and no perceived push, since it's all quite normal, just occasional bitching to ourselves. Only when the situation actually generates pain does the revolution ensue.

This all must be quite a relief to those at the top of society's food chain...

Posted by Paul Makepeace at October 26, 2004 19:52 | TrackBack

Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel prize for Prospect Theory (at least I think that's what he won it for).

From my notes:

"Individuals evaluate uncertain outcomes with reference to context rather than absolute scales.

1a - people put a much higher value on something they already own than they would pay for the same thing if was offered for sale
1b - fairness affects economic decision
1c - people cannot imagine what effect adaptation to their circumstances will have on happiness.

2 - people care twice as much about avoiding losses as they do about making gains.
3 - people cannot predict how their own tastes will change
4 - people generally make decisions based on memories rather than original experience"

I could write a book on applying just this one principle in life.

Posted by: Dave at October 27, 2004 00:45
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