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Notes Towards Day 10: "Allow for Serendipity"

Anne Dalke's picture

Notes Towards Day 10: "Allow for Serendipity"

I. coursekeeping

those papers due Fri? reporting in on topic-defining, progress in researching....?
3-pp. paper reporting on current studies done on your health choice:
how are most college students handling the choice you are confronting?
how best to present the information you find?
find three web sources; look @ HOW they present the info (causes? correlations?
text? table? how do you fit in the statistics? why are you located where you are?

for information: go the "database by subject" link on the library page
and check there (under psychology, or....?)

week after: you will come up w/ 5 questions, to ask 15 people,
& (instead of writing a paper) present your information
in graph or table form on line & to us in class;
you might want to play around with

Of relevance: revisiting "Risk Charts: Putting Cancer in Context"
without context (=10-year-chance of dying from various causes, side-by-side)
impossible to gauge magnitude of a disease risk for any individual

what has been the primary CONTEXT for your health decisions?
(could be a key dimension of your paper, to define that....)

Also (thanks to Peter)
a very-comfusing comparative graph of both sections'
responses to the "maximizing," "regret" and "happiness" scales...
what does this tell us?

reading for Tues, Oct. 7
45 pp. IN THE PACKET from Jonah Lehrer' s How We Decide:
Introduction, "The Quarterback in the Pocket,"  "Choking on Thought,"
and "The Poker Hand."   x-xvii, 9-13, 133-166, 243-250.

II. "allow for serendipity"
Consider the history/etymology of the website which hosts our conversations: Serendip
("`The Three Princes of Serendip' were always making discoveries,
by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of")

--in contrast with response to this idea...
(and/or equating chance=fate?)

III. SO: What did you learn from reading Schwartz's opening and concluding chapters?
talking points: (from Part I)

3: cost to choice overload
5: pay less attention to others' choices
14f: shopping for knowledge: browsing classes, free to choose,
no shared intellectual experiences

18: 93% of teenage girls say shopping is their favorite activity
23: filtering extraneous information basic function of consciousness:
increasingly: time-consuming foraging behavior
29: more choices, more responsibility
39: religious institutions as markets for tranquility ("supermarket Quakerism")
41f: choosing identity
44: cumulative effect of added choices causes added stress
48: experienced, vs. expected, vs. remembered utility
49: peak-end rule (discrepancy between logic and memory)
57: gathering information: the availability heuristic
60: multi-individual information assessment (but: shared second-hand information)
62: anchoring, framing
67: creative accounting re: own psychological balance sheets
69: risk averse re: potential gains; risk seeking re: potential losses
75: choosing vs. picking

(from Part IV: What to do about choice:)
1. choose when to choose
(what's important is not objective but subjective results of decisions)
2. be a chooser, not a picker (reflecting, modifying goals, taking time and attention)
3. satisfice more, maximize less (learn to accept "good enough")
4. think about opportunity costs of opportunity costs
(there's no absolute standard to appeal to)
5. make your decision nonreversible (option of changing increases chances you will...)
6. practice an "attitude of gratitude"
7. regret less (rare single decisions have life-transforming power...)
8.anticipate adaptation ("hedonic treadmill," "satisfaction treadmill" --
double whammy of adaptation: robs us of full satisfaction)
9. control expectations
10. curtail social comparison
11. learn to love constraints (rule-following frees up time)

his punch line is
"Choice within constraints, freedom within limits";

let's try this out in our (beloved, shared) local context: cf.
Pyramids and flocks: risk-taking and change in academic institutions












What attributes and behaviors do pyramids evoke?

What's the connection between individual and institution in this model?











check out the dynamics of a flock

What attributes and behaviors do the starlings evoke?

What's the connection between individual and institution in this model?

Let's think about the implications of these observations:

1) on our expectations of leadership--what does leadership look like in these two models?

2) what does risk-taking look like?

3) what does change look like?

4) what other conceptual models come to mind?

5) what model or combination of models do you see operating at Bryn Mawr College?

5) what model or combination of models would you like to see operating at Bryn Mawr College?

6) what would be your role in such a model for risk-taking and change at Bryn Mawr?