Online dating is "an incredibly
unsatisfying experience," says Duke behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely, the author of "Predictably Irrational." In fact, his research has found that each date you set up using online services requires an average of six hours of searching for
people and emailing with them. "I mean, imagine that you basically
had to drive six hours, three hours each way to have coffee with
somebody, and, you know, coffee usually ends up with just coffee." Part of the problem, according to Ariely, is the search criteria that dating sites use. By giving us superficial attributes to request in a mate, the sites tend to exaggerate our superficial tendencies.
In his most recent Big Think interview, Ariely talks at length about the issues around dating and mating, also telling us about a recent study he did that determined that people find others attractive in part based on how they perceive of their own attractiveness. "If you're [an unattractive] woman, you start valuing short men who are bald with bad teeth," says Ariely. "I mean, you just say, 'These are really wonderful features: I like hairy chests, I like bald head.' You basically change what you like and that actually helps you adjust."
Ariely also talked about the "Ikea effect," whereby we tend to overvalue the things we ourselves make—and we tend to think others will value them highly as well. "You can think about kids like this," says Ariely. "I have two wonderful kids, I love them dearly, I think they’re amazing. When we go to a party and they dance or do something, I can’t believe that any of their parents would want to do anything but look in my kids, right? And that’s the issue, right? They are my kids, I think they are wonderful, but, not only that, I think that other people should see them as wonderful as I see them. And the same thing happened with origami or with everything we make, not only do we overvalue it, we think that everybody will share our perspective."
Trust and revenge also figure significantly into Ariely's research. He says that even though both are irrational, our society depends on them to keep an equilibrium. In fact, if everyone acted rationally all the time, our society would likely be a lot less pleasant to live in, he says. That said, if we were a little more rational we might stop doing things like smoking and texting-while-driving that aren't in our best long-term interests.
Ariely also talks about how businesses behave in ways that are irrational, pointing specifically to the over-reliance by marketers on focus groups. He also notes that executive bonuses don't necessarily translate into better work or higher productivity.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?
- Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
- While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
- The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.
- The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
- Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
- As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.