We're blind to our blindness. We have very little idea of how little we know. We're not designed to know how little we know.
People like leaders who look like they are dominant, optimistic, friendly to their friends, and quick on the trigger when it comes to enemies. They like boldness and despise the appearance of timidity and protracted doubt.
Most of the moments of our life - and I calculated, you know, the psychological present is said to be about three seconds long; that means that, you know, in a life there are about 600 million of them; in a month, there are about 600,000 - most of them don't leave a trace.
Nobody would say, 'I'm voting for this guy because he's got the stronger chin,' but that, in fact, is partly what happens.
It is the consistency of the information that matters for a good story, not its completeness. Indeed, you will often find that knowing little makes it easier to fit everything you know into a coherent pattern.
For many people, commuting is the worst part of the day, and policies that can make commuting shorter and more convenient would be a straightforward way to reduce minor but widespread suffering.
If people are failing, they look inept. If people are succeeding, they look strong and good and competent. That's the 'halo effect.' Your first impression of a thing sets up your subsequent beliefs. If the company looks inept to you, you may assume everything else they do is inept.
Clearly, the decision-making that we rely on in society is fallible. It's highly fallible, and we should know that.
When people evaluate their life, they compare themselves to a standard of what a successful life is, and it turns out that standard tends to be universal: People in Togo and Denmark have the same idea of what a good life is, and a lot of that has to do with money and material prosperity.
Intuitive diagnosis is reliable when people have a lot of relevant feedback. But people are very often willing to make intuitive diagnoses even when they're very likely to be wrong.
I have always emphasized the willingness to discard.
There are domains in which expertise is not possible. Stock picking is a good example. And in long-term political strategic forecasting, it's been shown that experts are just not better than a dice-throwing monkey.
Doubting what you see is a very odd experience. And doubting what you remember is a little less odd than doubting what you see. But it's also a pretty odd experience, because some memories come with a very compelling sense of truth about them, and that happens to be the case even for memories that are not true.
It's clear that policymakers and economists are going to be interested in the measurement of well-being primarily as it correlates with health; they also want to know whether researchers can validate subjective responses with physiological indices.
Economists think about what people ought to do. Psychologists watch what they actually do.
Psychologists really aim to be scientists, white-coat stuff, with elaborate statistics, running experiments.
My impression is that the elimination of memories greatly reduces the value of the experience.
There is research on the effects of 9/11, and you know, compared to the enormity of it, it didn't have a huge effect on people's mood. They were going about their business, mostly.
The experiencing self lives in the moment; it is the one that answers the question, 'Does it hurt?' or 'What were you thinking about just now?' The remembering self is the one that answers questions about the overall evaluation of episodes or periods of one's life, such as a stay in the hospital or the years since one left college.
I used to hold a unitary view, in which I proposed that only experienced happiness matters, and that life satisfaction is a fallible estimate of true happiness.