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Surprising Science

The Maudlin Consumer

“Because the coldhearted equations of classical economics neglect emotion, their description of our decisions remained woefully incomplete.” The Frontal Cortex on the irrational consumer.

“We’ve come to realize that we’re not nearly as rational as we like to believe, that the brain is driven by all sorts of inarticulate feelings and pre-programmed instincts. It’s worth noting, however, that the modern investigation into our irrationality didn’t begin with a brain scan, or with discussions of the amygdala. Instead, it began with a few inconsistent people, making economic decisions about their vacation. … Patients exhibit a similar bias: When asked whether they would choose surgery in a hypothetical medical emergency, twice as many people opted to go under the knife when the chance of survival was given as 80 percent than when the chance of death was given as 20 percent.”


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