Wednesday, January 29, 2014

AOC: The Art & Science of Making Choices

[The Art of Choosing]

In the opening of chapter of her book The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar clarifies and expounds on the idea of making choices. "When we speak of choice," she writes, "what we mean is the ability to exercise control over ourselves and our environment. In order to chose, we must first perceive that control is possible."

According to Iyengar, who has done quite a bit of research on how and why people make certain choices, the ability to and perception of choices are often culturally situated and at times it appears biologically influenced.

Iyengar really covers a lot of ground, providing a variety of examples as she sets up the overall topic of choosing. I was fascinated by her description of "how much choice animals technically had was far less important than how much choice they felt they had." The idea that perceptions of choices matter a great deal intrigued me.

But what about you--what's one concept raised in the first chapter that drew your interest? In brief, explain why that concept or example was notable or intriguing to you.


Unknown said...

The concept in the book that caught my attention the most was the section entitled, "choice on the mind".

In this section, Iyengar explains the difference in having choice and wanting choice. She demonstrates three different experiments in which choice was a major impact on the individuals given the power to choose. It raises the question of, do we really have a problem when we don't have the power to choose?

Personally, I do believe that we, including every species, not just limited to homosapiens, would go crazy if we did not have as much power to choose as we do now. As an individual, we make choices everyday, weather it be from what shirt to wear in the morning to if we want to buy a car tomorrow. We make these choices because we believe that they will eventually benefit us in the long run, some way some how. So when we feel as if we don't have the ability to make our own choices, we feel threatened.

We do not fully grasp that, choices are not always "life or death". So next time you have a choice, just choose.

Brianna B said...

I found the concept raised in the rats and dogs experimenting part of the chapter most interesting because I feel like it said something really powerful. That concept introduced the idea that to some the choice to survive is invisible and they will just give up and suffer, but to others the choice to survive has a pull so strong they would rather die struggling than just give up without a fight. I feel like this idea can be seen in everyday life not just a lab experiment.

Andrea R. said...

I found the experiments with the dogs and the rats to be intriguing. Regardless of whether or not these animals are less intelligent than or on the same level of intelligence as humans, the fact that they had different levels of resolve or ways with coping with their ordeals can also give insight into the same way humans deal with choices they have little to no control over, or situations in which they believe they will have full control over.

When people believe they can reconcile a situation because of past experiences, they will exhaust any means before they finally give up. But also when people believe their situation is one in which they can't possibly find a way out of, they're quicker to stop trying.

Shervonti Norman said...

I found the part about the experimentation done on the rats and dogs the most interesting. It made me think about "helplessness" in a different way. Since the experiments consisted of animals around the same in appearance and health, it made me feel that even the people that appear to be strong can be weak but in a different way. It's almost like the animals that did not have the experience of being in a tough situation and getting out of it were the ones that did not even try. Iyengar is, of course, using the experiment to help set up her argument about choosing but it was definitely affective and interesting.

Christie Jordan said...

The concept I found the most intriguing in this chapter was the experiment about the dogs. After undergoing the shock treatments I found it surprising that some of the dogs wouldn't jump over the wall. The dogs just laid their taking the pain. This was intriguing to me because even though they had the choice to stop their pain, mentally they lacked the power. I found it hard to believe that the dogs saw the way to escape the pain but instead they gave up. This experiment purposed the idea that the amount of power you believe you have links to the choices that you make.

Celeste C. said...

I found the topic regarding zoo animals fairly intriguing because I'm an animal lover. Having control over one's destiny is an important aspect for humans and animals. Survival skills is what helps animals grow and since their every need is provided to them they lose control.
Basics necessities such as water, shelter, food, and safety is in the hands of humans as if they are completely helpless. They cannot control when they'll have their next meal, when they want to wander or sleep, or when they can leave. They stop living and change completely due to lack of appropriate stimulation. This all leads to lower life expectancy or an attempt to escape resulting in death. Fairly interesting take on the effects of choosing.

Anitra B. said...

The part that I found most interesting in this chapter was the section about the experiment in the nursing home. I was shocked when I found out the heath of the resident's, who were "allowed" to do some things, deteriorated so quickly in a short amount of time and those who were given the option of "choosing" how to spend their time were less likely to have died. This suggested that having the ability to choose can have a big effect on peoples mental and physical state.

Unknown said...

The section of the chapter that surprised me the most was where they talked about the experiments on the dogs. It definitely made me think of how some humans react to negative experiences in our lives. Sometimes we become so paralyzed by the terrible things that happen in our lives that we give up on our goals and think that they are impossible to achieve. When, in reality, they're completely within reach if only we would try.

Ashley A. said...

The correlation between the amount of choice someone feels they have within their job and heart disease is the concept interests me most, mostly because I don't really buy the correlation. The author mentioned the fight or flight response, or stress, which is the which has started to have ill consequences on the human body incurrent conditions. To me, stress would be the main and direct factor of the heart disease that was observed. I know from experience that stress isn't always derived from the lack of choice, but often times it's from the abundance of choices we have to make. I can see how the correlation between choice and heart disease was made, I just don't entirely agree.