Sunday, June 09, 2013

Yale Emotion Research Videos

Yale has a neat website with interviews with people doing research in affect, or moods, and how it affects us.  There are interviews with Steve Pinker, Jon Haidt, and Dan Gilbert among others, though I already have heard from those guys, so I like the other videos.

For example, Gerald Clore argues that negative moods generate more analytic reasoning. Difficult problems generate negative affect, a reason why people do not like to 'think hard', and why trouble and depression can be a positive feedback loop.

American educator John Dewey said you don't learn anything unless you reach a problem, where reality says 'no, do something new.' Positive affect tells your brain, 'you are going in a good direction, and so have no reason to change stream.'  As it's improbable we have it all figured out as a child, one should expect periods of lugubrious contemplation because that's the only way you'll really grow. Another reason for moderation in all things (clearly, no one wants to be dyspeptic all the time), a little more Adagio for Strings and less The Magic Flute.

Another great clip was by Cosmides and Tooby on the grammar of human arguments, which invariably are about costs, benefits, and mental states.  Anger is usually triggered by the perception that someone is putting too little weight on your welfare given your relationship. People get angry when they think they were harmed for little comparable benefit, as if they were merely a pawn sacrificed for some more valuable piece.

I remember being quite angry during my litigation in part because many acquaintances who could have helped me a great deal chose not too, presumably because they valued the option for a lottery ticket in dealing with an uber-wealthy guy (or avoiding his negative lottery ticket) higher than helping me, so I got very little help (eg, innumerable facts needed attesting in court by experts, such as that mean variance optimization was not close to Telluride's IP, or simple unwritten rules in IP litigation that experienced people know).

If you understand the roots of your frustration, it's less frustrating.

1 comment:

Mercury said...

Moderation in all things is probably a more optimal strategy for people whose capabilities are closer to those of Apollo. For the rest of us a generous dollop of pessimism with the morning coffee works pretty well for anticipating many problems and generating the odd, pleasant surprise.