from Stumbling on Happiness

by Daniel Gilbert

This refers to how we can figure out if we are really happy or not:


This trio of studies suggests that when people are deprived of the information that imagination requires and are thus forced to use others as surrogates, they make remarkably accurate predictions about their future feelings, which suggests that the best way to predict our feelings tomorrow is to see how others are feeling today.

And it all comes down to one of the footnotes:

#25, p. 266

This is also the best way to predict our future behavior.  For example, people overestimate the likelihood that others will do the same.  This suggests that if we would base predictions of our own behavior on what we see others do, we’d be dead-on.  See N. Epley and D. Dunning, “Feeling ‘Holier Than Thou’:  Are Self-Serving Assessments Produced by Errors in Self- or Social Prediction?”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 79: 861-75 (2000).

So we need people who can tell us what we are doing and how it will be good or not so good for us.  So giving advice is really good, but getting people to listen to it, of course, is the sticking point.  Of course, with the problem of charisma that we have today, I’m curious to know whether there is a difference in how people who are willing to take advice  from those who don’t.

Well, of course there is, but maybe not in the way that we would think.  Maybe those who get caught in charisma still don’t see themselves as getting caught and therefore still think of themselves as acting rationally and uniquely.

Maybe, and maybe not.


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