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Archive for October 7th, 2008

We know that behavior is not simple but there are simple behavioral components that keep getting ignored. Relative to what we all experience in life like conflicts in the Dan Ariely remarks below and in a previous blog on this site.… we recognize his statements on habits, good and bad, etc.  Yet there is a second component that comes to be more easily considered as well.  Follow along…

Dan Ariely: ….(on the October Bailout, politicians, Wall Street, etc.)

The second thing is that nothing has changed much in the short term living of people. In some sense, this is smaller than the effect of the increasing gas prices.

Greer: Yeah.

Ariely: What is happening? Basically the thing is we are creatures of habit, if you think about it. The best predictor of what we will do tomorrow is what we did today. That is it. Habits are good and bad. They are good because they help us save energy. We don’t have to think about it. We don’t have to contemplate every cup of coffee if it is worth it or not. As a consequence, we get into habits.

When we lose 50 or 500 interactive habits all at once via an earthquake, hurricane, family death, financial threats, loneliness, fall from grace, rejection…etc. (you get the idea) we have nothing to replace those ‘habits’ that are the products of conditioning shaped by consequences over years. We don’t have any behavior to replace those lost dynamic relationships with… literally!. We have to figure it out all over again. Sometimes it is too much to handle.

Take the following stories bunched together from Associated Press just today…10/7/08

Tuesday, October 7th 2008, 11:31 AM

AP/The Courier-Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A deputy coroner confirmed Tuesday that Hope Orwick stabbed her two children to death and then shot herself.

Deputy Jefferson County Coroner Bob Jones said Emily Orwick, 9, and Lindsey Orwick, 8, were stabbed multiple times, though he could not say how many. He said Hope Orwick, 35, shot herself in the head.

RELATED: FATHER KILLS SELF, FAMILY IN MURDER-SUICIDE DRIVEN BY FINANCIAL PROBLEMS

Louisville Metro Police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley said a family member stopped by the house just before 7:30 p.m. EDT Monday and found the bodies.

Jones said he hasn’t been able to pinpoint when the girls died, and police were trying to determine a motive for the killings.

Crisis counselors will be available at the girls’ elementary school Wednesday, said Jefferson County Public Schools spokeswoman Lauren Roberts, who would not say which school they attended. Public schools in Louisville were closed Tuesday for parent-teacher conferences.

RELATED: MOM KEPT DAUGHTERS’ REMAINS IN THE FREEZER

Along the quiet, well-kept southwest Jefferson County street where the family lived, children played in their yards Tuesday. All was quiet at the family’s modest, ranch-style house, where there were no signs of activity.

Two chaplains were at the scene Monday night, and Smiley said 15 or so family members gathered there. Police talked to relatives to see if they could help explain what may have led to the deaths.

Neighbor Mechelle Rockey, 48, told The Courier-Journal that she has lived across the street from the family for about six months. She said the two girls often played outside.

Contingencies around us control our behavior. We give them other ‘causes’ but as you can see it is contingencies that have all the power, be you the Pope, the President or the paparazzi… all the people above lost what they saw as options on what to do. Ariely and the others represent the loss (of behavior) on how to cope, what strategies to use, what methods to embrace, etc. They lost their behavior.

What contingencies control your behavior and generates your ‘habits’ that define who you are and what you’d do in your crisis?

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Dan Ariely is a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University and the author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. I recently talked with him about some hidden forces shaping the current financial crisis.

Mac Greer: You have a lot of Americans seeing this as a Wall Street crisis and not so much as a “Main Street” crisis. What do you think it will take for most Americans to reach some sort of a consensus that this crisis really requires immediate action?

Dan Ariely: Well, one thing is we have been telling a lot of people for a long time that whatever they have in the stock market is about long-term strategy and not any short-term things. So the current change in speak, in some sense, doesn’t seem to be very effective. We have been telling people for 20 years the money you have in the stock market is about retirement, it is not about anything urgent. Don’t look at it. It is all about long-term strategy. It is very hard to convince people that all of a sudden that it is short term. That is one thing.

The second thing is that nothing has changed much in the short term living of people. In some sense, this is smaller than the effect of the increasing gas prices.

Greer: Yeah.

Ariely: What is happening? Basically the thing is we are creatures of habit, if you think about it. The best predictor of what we will do tomorrow is what we did today. That is it. Habits are good and bad. They are good because they help us save energy. We don’t have to think about it. We don’t have to contemplate every cup of coffee if it is worth it or not. As a consequence, we get into habits.

Read the full post from Motley Fool.

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