The website Brain Pickings ran a review of the book This Will Make You Smarter: 151 Big Thinkers Each Pick a Concept to Enhance Your Cognitive Toolkit. Just in case, ya know, you wanted to actually become smarter, but learning from some really smart guys and gals.
This we thought this idea of “The Focusing Illusion” was interesting, and helps us understand why come of the issues we talk about on Good Men Project seem so very important to different groups who visit us and then commenter.
Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, who authored one of the best psychology books of 2011, contemplates the “focusing illusion” – or tendency to misjudge the scale of impact certain circumstances, from a pay raise to the death of a loved one, will have on our actual well-being.
Marketers exploit the focusing illusion. When people are induced to believe that they “must have” a good, they greatly exaggerate the difference that the good will make to the quality of their life. The focusing illusion is greater for some goods than for others, depending on the extent to which the goods attract continued attention over time. The focusing illusion is likely to be more significant for leather car seats than for books on tape.
Politicians are almost as good as marketers in causing people to exaggerate the importance of issues on which their attention is focused. People can be made to believe that school uniforms will significantly improve educational outcomes, or that health care reform will hugely change the quality of life in the United States — either for the better or for the worse. Health care reform will make a difference, but the difference will be smaller than it appears when you focus on it.
photo: isaacmao / flickr