Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Our brains are holding us back

One of the things that fascinates me about our reaction to climate change is just how many things outweigh facts and rational decision making. I've recently read a couple of articles about our psychology in this area.

One is about gender socialisation. What that means is from childhood boys are taught that masculinity means "detachment, control and mastery" while girls are taught "attachment, empathy, and care". Researchers think this is partially why more women accept the reality of climate change. Essentially they are trained to care more about the dire consequences.

The other article was about temporal discounting, which means our struggle to give up a small thing now for more later. In experiments people choose $100 now instead of $120 in a month's time. Financially it makes no sense. The extra $20 represents an interest rate of 240% and is definitely worth the wait. But our brains "discount" (or devalue) the future when we make decisions.

In experiments it might cost us 20 bucks, but in climate change it could cost us a whole lot more.

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