Framing the question

This post inspired by Dr. Ayo Jeje’s lecture of a lifetime, available here:

Would you rather…..

These kind of weighing of the options happens in our minds countless times each day. We think that by making this simple comparisons between the options, presto change-o we get an answer that is really what we intend our decision to be. I think that this trust in our own decision-making ability is somewhat misleading. The way we ask the questions that we then evaluate is in fact much more important than we may initially think.

Consider a study where subjects were asked to choose between program A or program B.

Program A: there is 100% chance that 200 people will live.

Program B: there is 1/3 chance that all 600 people will live. there is 2/3 chance that all 600 will die.

People overwhelmingly chose the certainty of option A.

A repeat of the choice comes with a reframing of the question.

Program A: 400 people will die.

Program B: There is a 1/3 chance that you will save all of the people.

In this case, most people chose option B.

This just makes me think, what am I missing in my framing of questions?

Which for me leads into his ideas on people’s self-examination of happiness.

“Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness: on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming at something else, they find happiness by the way.”

Are people here just framing their question of life differently?


About Janine Reid

What is Janine? -board game enthusiast -political observer -Vancouverite -questioner -listener -health provider
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