This will be an interesting post, I promise. But before you read it, there is a poll I want you people to fill.
Suppose I give you 10,000$ and one free week. What vacation will you plan? Take a minute and imagine it. What will you do? Where will you go?
Now, suppose I tell you that this vacation will be erased from your memory. You shall have absolutely no recollection of it. Nor will you have any photos, souvenirs, etc. Nothing.
Will you change your plans?
Only after you filled in the poll, may you watch this video:
Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves”:Vodpod videos no longer available.
Was there a big difference in your vacation plans? If so, something weird has taken place. You have given preference to the memory of an experience over the experience itself. It is very natural to do so, to some extent. We have two “selves” within us – a remembering self, looking back in time and planning ahead, and an experiencing self. One recalls and plans, the other lives in the present. How different are they? Enough to make a difference. This means, for example, that a horrible dentist whose excruciating sessions take longer, might have more clients than a good dentist – because the end of his sessions are such a relief, and that relief is what constitutes the memory of the session. How is it with you, dear readers? Let us gather answers and see.
Now, an implementation. It seems that religious people divorce less than secular couples. Also, religious couples are more likely to be happy with their marriage than secular ones. I bet that the difference ensues from the difference between these two “inner selves”. When secular Mrs. Jones complains about the humdrum of married life, it is her experiencing self which has spoken. Has she been religious, the very fact that she is married and had children would be conceived by her as some kind of self-fulfilment. Hence, her remembering self is more likely to take over the answer and describe her marriage as ‘happy’ – disregarding the factual details of the experience itself. Religious people are teleological – that is, they judge existence on the basis of its adherence to a philosophical goal. They are almost bound to disregard harsh experiences. This is why, back when she was religious and married, my sister neglected to admit that she was mistreated by her husband. The humiliations were suffered by her “experiencing self” – but questions about happiness were answered from the perspective of the (teleological) goal-achieving “remembering self”. It was only after her re-secularization that she started to see herself as a victim. Beforehand, any misgivings she felt were immediately translated into a deep sense of guilt.