Group Rationality Diary, September 13-26

by Dahlen1 min read13th Sep 20151 comment


Personal Blog

This is the public group rationality diary for September 13th - 26th, 2015. It's a place to record and chat about it if you have done, or are actively doing, things like:

  • Established a useful new habit

  • Obtained new evidence that made you change your mind about some belief

  • Decided to behave in a different way in some set of situations

  • Optimized some part of a common routine or cached behavior

  • Consciously changed your emotions or affect with respect to something

  • Consciously pursued new valuable information about something that could make a big difference in your life

  • Learned something new about your beliefs, behavior, or life that surprised you

  • Tried doing any of the above and failed

Or anything else interesting which you want to share, so that other people can think about it, and perhaps be inspired to take action themselves. Try to include enough details so that everyone can use each other's experiences to learn about what tends to work out, and what doesn't tend to work out.

Archive of previous rationality diaries

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I finished reading the "Commitment and Consistency" chapter in Cialdini's book 'Influence'. For the past 2+ weeks I have attempted to stay aware of this bias in everyday life.

What I have observed:

  • I caught myself and others being automatically (and irrationality) committed to ideas (far too many times)
  • Some of personal beliefs exist simply because I committed to them when I was younger and significantly more idiotic
  • People are significantly more committed to goals when they publicly announced them
  • People say mind-blowingly irrational statements for the sake of consistency

Consequences of my observations:

  • I have stopped myself many times from automatically blurting out ideas I was committed to
  • I have had the chance to re-examine a few of my personal beliefs and update them accordingly
  • I have gotten people to do things for me/keep their promises by making them announce it or write it down.
  • I have gotten even closer to my cat because I publicly declared him as part of my family :)

Updates in my reality:

  • Human operate in a much more robotic way than I previously thought so (I only understood this theoretically, now I've observed it in real life)
  • Humans are controlled by this invisible program of commitment and consistency, and I'm sure I've only observed the top of the iceberg with regards to this bias. I'm seeing new things almost everyday.

What worked well:

  • Attempting something that I was genuinely interested in
  • Letting my momentum organically build up from my interest in the activity/subject and all my previous successful observations

What didn't work:

  • Setting micro-goals (I tried to set myself a micro-goal of observing this bias 10 times during the day, and I failed)
  • Setting expectations for myself (even low expectations seemed to hinder my progress)