نتیجه گیری

کتاب: تفکر،سریع و کند / فصل 39

نتیجه گیری

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  • زمان مطالعه 8 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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Conclusions

I began this book by introducing two fictitious characters, spent some time discussing two species, and ended with two selves. The two characters were the intuitive System 1, which does JghtA5 `؇J5 the fast thinking, and the effortful and slower System 2, which does the slow thinking, monitors System 1, and maintains control as best it can within its limited resources. The two species were the fictitious Econs, who live in the land of theory, and the Humans, who act in the real world. The two selves are the experiencing self, which does the living, and the remembering self, which keeps score and makes the choices. In this final chapter I consider some applications of the three distinctions, taking them in reverse order.

Two Selves

The possibility of conflicts between the remembering self and the interests of the experiencing self turned out to be a harder problem than I initially thought. In an early experiment, the cold-hand study, the combination of duration neglect and the peak-end rule led to choices that were manifestly absurd. Why would people willingly expose themselves to unnecessary pain? Our subjects left the choice to their remembering self, preferring to repeat the trial that left the better memory, although it involved more pain. Choosing by the quality of the memory may be justified in extreme cases, for example when post-traumatic stress is a possibility, but the cold-hand experience was not traumatic. An objective observer making the choice for someone else would undoubtedly choose the short exposure, favoring the sufferer’s experiencing self. The choices that people made on their own behalf are fairly described as mistakes. Duration neglect and the peak-end rule in the evaluation of stories, both at the opera and in judgments of Jen’s life, are equally indefensible. It does not make sense to evaluate an entire life by its last moments, or to give no weight to duration in deciding which life is more desirable.

The remembering self is a construction of System 2. However, the distinctive features of the way it evaluates episodes and lives are characteristics of our memory. Duration neglect and the peak-end rule originate in System 1 and do not necessarily correspond to the values of System 2. We believe that duration is important, but our memory tells us it is not. The rules that govern the evaluation of the past are poor guides for decision making, because time does matter. The central fact of our existence is that time is the ultimate finite resource, but the remembering self ignores that reality. The neglect of duration combined with the peak-end rule causes a bias that favors a short period of intense joy over a long period of moderate happiness. The mirror image of the same bias makes us fear a short period of intense but tolerable suffering more than we fear a much longer period of moderate pain. Duration neglect also makes us prone to accept a long period of mild unpleasantness because the end will be better, and it favors giving up an opportunity for a long happy period if it is likely to have a poor ending. To drive the same idea to the point of discomfort, consider the common admonition, “Don’t do it, you will regret it.” The advice sounds wise because anticipated regret is the verdict of the remembering self and we are inclined to accept such judgments as final and conclusive. We should not forget, however, that the perspective of the remembering self is not always correct. An objective observer of the hedonimeter profile, with the interests of the experiencing self in mind, might well offer different advice. The remembering self’s neglect of duration, its exaggerated emphasis on peaks and ends, and its susceptibility to hindsight combine to yield distorted reflections of our actual experience.

In contrast, the duration-weighted conception of well-being treats all moments of life alike, memorable or not. Some moments end up weighted more than others, either because they are memorable Sareeva or because they are important. The time that people spend dwelling on a memorable moment should be included in its duration, adding to its weight. A moment can also gain importance by altering the experience of subsequent moments. For example, an hour spent practicing the violin may enhance the experience of many hours of playing or listening to music years later. Similarly, a brief awful event that causes PTSD should be weighted by the total duration of the long-term misery it causes. In the duration-weighted perspective, we can determine only after the fact that a moment is memorable or meaningful. The statements “I will always remember…” or “this is a meaningful moment” should be taken as promises or predictions, which can be false—and often are—even when uttered with complete sincerity. It is a good bet that many of the things we say we will always remember will be long forgotten ten years later.

The logic of duration weighting is compelling, but it cannot be considered a complete theory of well-being because individuals identify with their remembering self and care about their story. A theory of well-being that ignores what people want cannot be sustained. On the other hand, a theory that ignores what actually happens in people’s lives and focuses exclusively on what they think about their life is not tenable either. The remembering self and the experiencing self must both be considered, because their interests do not always coincide. Philosophers could struggle with these questions for a long time.

The issue of which of the two selves matters more is not a question only for philosophers; it has implications for policies in several domains, notably medicine and welfare. Consider the investment that should be made in the treatment of various medical conditions, including blindness, deafness, or kidney failure. Should the investments be determined by how much people fear these conditions? Should investments be guided by the suffering that patients actually experience? Or should they follow the intensity of the patients’ desire to be relieved from their condition and by the sacrifices that they would be willing to make to achieve that relief? The ranking of blindness and deafness, or of colostomy and dialysis, might well be different depending on which measure of the severity of suffering is used. No easy solution is in sight, but the issue is too important to be ignored.

The possibility of using measures of well-being as indicators to guide government policies has attracted considerable recent interest, both among academics and in several governments in Europe. It is now conceivable, as it was not even a few years ago, that an index of the amount of suffering in society will someday be included in national statistics, along with measures of unemployment, physical disability, and income. This project has come a long way.

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