Posts tagged with satisfaction

Paul Bloom disproves the idea that sexual pleasure se logra by merely the proper stimulation of various genitalia with the following Gedankenexperiment:
Imagine you find out that the person you had sex with last night is not who you thought they were.
Maybe you learn that the charming gentleman is the author of white-supremacist hate literature.Maybe you find out that the beautiful woman was your long-lost sister. The feeling of wanting to crawl out of your own skin and leave the ugly husk of your body behind wouldn’t be out of place.
That such tropes appear in literature we’ve found from millennia ago suggests people have long felt this way: sexual pleasure must be tied in with not only the body of your partner, but with their spirit and inherent nature as well.
  
Pleasure is complicated. Economists know this but usually choose to forget the fact. The study of where individual demand curves come from would be a new discipline, although ink has been spilled on the topic.
However, the questions of pleasure and satisfaction are relevant to the engineering of society. If the objective function is set to: maximise output, but people derive pleasure from achieving increasingly difficult goals and receiving even artificial rewards, then the world of work is not optimised for happiness but the world of school is.
Getting more practical than grand critiques of “society”, anyone who manages more employees than herself would benefit from knowing which free-or-cheap buttons she can push to motivate and reward the people “under” her. Even more pedestrian: I know that sitting down feels better after a physical labour or constitutional, but I haven’t a quantitative knowledge of how to engineer my habits and routines to take fullest advantage of that fact.
Sound the trumpet again for a department of happiness studies.

Paul Bloom disproves the idea that sexual pleasure se logra by merely the proper stimulation of various genitalia with the following Gedankenexperiment:

  • Imagine you find out that the person you had sex with last night is not who you thought they were.

Maybe you learn that the charming gentleman is the author of white-supremacist hate literature.
Dave Chappelle playing a (blind) black white supremacist
Maybe you find out that the beautiful woman was your long-lost sister. The feeling of wanting to crawl out of your own skin and leave the ugly husk of your body behind wouldn’t be out of place.

That such tropes appear in literature we’ve found from millennia ago suggests people have long felt this way: sexual pleasure must be tied in with not only the body of your partner, but with their spirit and inherent nature as well.

  

Pleasure is complicated. Economists know this but usually choose to forget the fact. The study of where individual demand curves come from would be a new discipline, although ink has been spilled on the topic.

However, the questions of pleasure and satisfaction are relevant to the engineering of society. If the objective function is set to: maximise output, but people derive pleasure from achieving increasingly difficult goals and receiving even artificial rewards, then the world of work is not optimised for happiness but the world of school is.

Getting more practical than grand critiques of “society”, anyone who manages more employees than herself would benefit from knowing which free-or-cheap buttons she can push to motivate and reward the people “under” her. Even more pedestrian: I know that sitting down feels better after a physical labour or constitutional, but I haven’t a quantitative knowledge of how to engineer my habits and routines to take fullest advantage of that fact.

Sound the trumpet again for a department of happiness studies.


hi-res




Matt Ridley has written an entertaining book: The Rational Optimist, detailing all the ways in which life is great for rich people. (By rich people I mean the fraction of humans who make ≥5 figure salaries in $.)

For example Louis XIV had a hundred chefs make him 100 meals and throw away the 99 he didn’t want, but nowadays a New York City “peasant” has even more choice of dinner consumption, without needing to be king. (I’m not sure if this applies to the poorest person in NYC or the poor ones who can’t make it in … which is why I’m restricting the statement to ≥$10000 earners. Although maybe Mr Ridley would argue that even a subsistence farmer today has it better than Les Hommes de Cro-Magnon.)

But so, uh, why is this an interesting book? Nobody writes a book called Hey, did you know the sky is blue? Except at sunset when it’s pink or when it rains it’s grey. Isn’t that interesting?! Because everybody already knows that. The fact that Mr Ridley can sell a "provocative" book full of amazing facts and viewpoints about how prosperous we are sends a grave message the opposite way.

Why is it that we need a book from Mr Ridley to remind us how good we’ve got it?




Random thought. If end-of-life health care costs eat up 33% of US health care spending = $850 billion, then that means that if you could make people less afraid of dying and more willing to accept it, you would save = make a colossal amount of money. (In fact $850bn = roughly ten years of revenues of US President Obama’s optimistic projection if he raises taxes on the richest Americans.)

In other words, changing people’s attitudes could add 10% to the GDP of the biggest economy in the world.

Random thought #2. If we’re interested in maximising utility across the economy rather than increasing production levels, then perhaps the most important field of research is not bioengineering but the psychology of satisfaction. If you could figure out how to make people appreciate the things they have and not covet the things others have, then gross utility would shoot way up. How much? Billions? Maybe even on the order of the entire economy itself?