[Below is the original script. But a few changes may have been made during the recording of this audio podcast.]
Making decisions for 2009?
Well maybe consider Duke professor Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational in which he describes how our expectations can hugely affect our decisions.
At M.I.T., he and two colleagues had several hundred students try two different pints of beer. One was Budweiser and the other was Budweiser, but with balsamic vinegar added.
Students who weren’t told about the “secret ingredient,” vastly preferred the balsamic beer. But those who were informed before tasting the beer, hated it.
If people think up front that something might be distasteful, Ariely argues, the odds are high that they’ll experience it negatively, no matter how intrinsically good it is.
But can expectations change the physiology of our experience?
In a second experiment participants were told about the vinegar after they tasted the beer. If knowledge of the vinegar is merely information, then our perception should be the same regardless of when we get that information.
But this group loved the beer just as much as those who never heard about the vinegar.
So our expectations can reshape our sensory perceptions. Then, should you have zero expectations for the future? Not necessarily. Maybe just expect great things in 2009. After 2008, it can’t hurt, right?