Week 2 : Day 5 : Dan Ariely, Movies

This talk is another presentation on the difficulty of managing the present so the future self is satisfied. One of the things I enjoy about hearing the same ideas presented by different people is the variety of theories about why Thing X works.

When he talks about how he managed to give himself his interferon injections on time, every time for a year and a half he puts his success at associating the unpleasant side effects of the medication with the pleasant side effects of watching desired videos while the worst of the nausea and chills passed. What change psychologists know now is that if you are aware of the difficulties you will encounter as you try and change a behavior, you can plan for how to counter those difficulties. If you will assume the worst and find something that works around the difficulty, you will be more successful. Ariely knew the side effects would be bad, so he made a plan to work around them which was renting enough videos to get through the worst and curling up on his couch with a bucket and a blanket and camping out until they passed. At the beginning he probably didn’t know how many videos that would take but over time he refined his coping plan.

Think about the effect of time on the relative importance of liver function and the side effects of the injections.

How do the movies relate to that piece of chocolate Duhigg was talking about?

Does what we know about the importance of a coping plan change the effect of reward substitution?

The Prius, originally designed to look just like every other sub-compact, didn’t sell well at initial release. As soon as Toyota dramatically changed the exterior so the Prius was immediately recognizable, they couldn’t produce them fast enough. All the reasons to drive a Prius hadn’t changed. People who cared about the Prius’ functionality already knew about it. So what changed?

How is using reward substitution different from engaging with what you really value?

Which system have you used in the past?

How well did it work for you?

Which system feels better to you?

How might mindfulness work with reward substitution?

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