Thursday, November 12, 2009

Aren’t you a little old for an epiphany?

I saw a great BBC special last night about how the brain makes bad decisions. Of particular note was "prospecting theory" where a human can be manipulated into making a bad choice if there is already loss involved. (i.e. doesn't want to fold with chips in the pot). Furthermore, the first-to-act part of the brain is the emotional center, with the Frontal Lobe (logical) waiting to kick in. When you are already vested with the prospect of loss (or assumed loss) your emotional center wishes to make a BAD DECISION. Not an emotional decision, mind you. But rather a BAD decision.

This was RIVETING to me on the heals of making a TERRIBLE decision, where I know better. (for those columbo fans, I ate a BIG CHUNK of PEPPERED BEEF!)

They also made a startling find that you can BREAK the prospecting (or other cycles) through stimulus (intentional or unintentional). For example, temperature. Holding a cold beverage may make me more weary of you, while a warm beverage more comfortable with you. If you fold too much and play too tight, perhaps a warm beverage? If you are making lousy calls, perhaps cooling off literally helps?

Further information points to the same effect for pre-event rituals (even superstitious ones like ball players wearing the same socks every game). Or Johnny Chan and his Orange. It seems that these also help break prospecting (and other) decision cycles.

There is also the idea that when one is "in the zone" where decision making is going so well that one seems to be able to "see the results before they happen", that the brain has managed to shut down the emotional center for a time (SPOCK! I need you Spock! now do Kirk). sorry, obscure reference. Anyways, this is brainiac (sic) stuff, I know. But think about this...

When you see a player on TV with a blank stare and mouth agape, have they then shut off the emotional center for pure logic? and if so, can I do that by training myself and changing my stimulus. The answer is YES.

It could be a drink, gum, choice of ipod music, etc. to break existing patterns, then some ability to "create a moment" where the emotion shuts down. Now do that for long hours on end on demand. Not as easy as it first sounded, is it? But being cognizant of this may make a world of difference in your post decision analysis.

There is an old adage of "counting 10" or "going to a happy place" under the weight of a big decision. But it may be as simple as training yourself to pick up your cold drink before you act.


diverjoules said...

Really interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Tycou said...

Interesting. Thanks.