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A bit of a book review today for you: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.
Here’s an overview: Full of cutting-edge psychological research on the science of happiness, this book details the way our brains consistently, reliably (you know: predictably) cause us to make bad decisions. A researcher himself, Ariely also draws on numerous studies by his colleagues to make this one point repeatedly.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: Did you know that employee theft outweighs all other kinds of criminal theft combined–by far? The reason, Ariely argues, is that our brains don’t “switch on” the guilt response until theft or dishonesty reaches a certain level; in other words, there is no negative emotional response that hinders us from stealing small amounts from our employer–or anyone else–even though over time they add up significantly.
In the study cited on this, lots of Harvard students were tempted to cheat on an exam in different ways, with different chances of getting caught. Thing is, though everybody who could cheat did (a little), the ones with the least chance of getting caught (the test was torn up and they just took their monetary reward straight from a dime jar) cheated no more than those who had some chance of getting caught (they could visibly change answers on their tests before the researcher got to it).
So. My get happy tip for the day: When it comes to temptation, don’t rely on your guilt reflex to get you through.
Rely on your rationality.