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Matt Kinderman
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“Today, most problems with unpredictability and immeasurability of emotions have been solved.” If I had read that before taking this class, I would have been shocked. After learning about many of the mechanisms researchers have an analyzing decision making, I am really starting to see the vast amount of research possible in this field. The authors articulated aspects of decision making and the specificity of emotion that I really hadn’t ever strongly considered. The paper made sense to me and I tended to agree with the authors yet the paper did not seem truly groundbreaking at first. The unremarkable nature of the paper may be a testament to the authors’ writing in that they are explaining that which we take for granted. Looking at the “mundane” everyday decision making process and not just rare cases seems to be truly important. Exploring more what “feeling is for doing” and the effects that this has on everyday life has many implications far beyond this paper and future research on this topic promises to be quite compelling. I would have liked to seen more both a bit more in depth analysis of the “illustrations” of feeling is for doing and perhaps another illustration to make the points a bit more clear. I got a bit turned around while reading the prisoners dilemma with fear and guilt and the different effects the inductions of these emotions had on different “social value orientation” individuals.
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2015 on Econ 398 at Jolly Green General
As I was reading the section on Theory of Mind development among children and the various experiences, I recalled a segment from a NPR TED Radio Hour segment that I heard had recently listened to called “Unstoppable Learning”. The radio program explored different research concerning early childhood development. The program was what got me really interested in learning more about education and technology. In this blog post, I’ll briefly go over some of what was covered and the implications. The relevant section came from a Ted talk and interview with Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at UC Berkley, and a prominent researcher early childhood cognitive development. She discussed the revolution over the last 30 years of thought on babies’ brains: we previously thought babies were just small adults without developed minds and now we are learning their brains are sponges of information like “the most brilliant scientists”. Babies are observing and experimenting on everything we take for granted, constantly thinking of all current surroundings. Scientifically, she says there’s babies possess lots of neurotransmitters for learning and plasticity but the inhibitors haven’t developed yet (that allow humans to focus on specific tasks). She then wanted to test ToM based on the fact that kids really like to eat some things and not others. She administered broccoli and goldfish to the babies and then had her assistant try both but with exaggerated expressions of satisfaction for the broccoli. By 18 months, these babies were able to give the experimenter broccoli even though it was gross to the baby. The baby could understand that “I like crackers, but the other person likes broccoli.” This is earlier than even our book text suggests and forms the basis for empathy, and perhaps even altruism, developing between 15-18 months. She observes that humans have very long period of uselessness relative to other species. She hypothesizes that this is to give the mind more time to develop and explore, which is the distinguishing characteristic of humans relative to other species—the mind. As far as policy implication, she encourages parents to be more focused and exploration and creating a loving environment not getting legs up for tests. Creating more “exploration and play” as opposed to more standardized test sort of learning is crucial, as is creating environments where poor children can embrace this exploratory phase. She closes by saying we take too much time to make babies think like adults when maybe we need adults thinking more like children—an open minded, sponge of information that is inherently curious about the world. Here’s a link to a column she wrote for CNN 4 years back that is more or less my above summary but in her own words: http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/23/opinion/gopnik-ted-children-learning/
Toggle Commented Oct 27, 2015 on econ 398 next two weeks at Jolly Green General
This was an interesting chapter to read that I got a lot out of. Many of the assertions and experiments made sense when thinking about their applications in daily life. For example, the authors discuss how memories require additional storage to gain stability. Thinking about my own experiences, this active storage scenario seems quite true. Over time, memories fade. Those that do not fade tend to morph into memories focusing on small details as we like to imagine them. This reminds me of a group of friends looking back on an old story over time. Often times the story is greatly exaggerated to focus on a few key details or sentiments that often can look far from the original story but are more related to an aspect in the present. Another interesting example comes from looking at the emotional impact of valuation from mood induction. They found that sad moods often biased preferences towards high-risk, high-reward options whereas anxious moods biased preferences towards low-risk, low-reward preferences. When thinking of those living in poverty, especially children in high stress environments, I think of feelings of sadness and anxiety as dominating one’s life. Not knowing much about the effects, but these opposite biases seem like it makes kids more volatile in these situations, with opposite biases tugging at one another. Constant states of sadness could cause children to be biased toward engaging in higher risk and irrational behavior like drug abuse and gambling (more when adults.) And feelings of anxiety could bias one towards low risk behavior cause a decreased belief in one’s self and slow the child from “dreaming big”. These are just two potential applications to the real world from small sections of this chapter, which really illustrates how far reaching the impact of emotion is on decision making.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2015 on ECON 398 at Jolly Green General
I had difficulty with understanding some of the more theoretical sections on traditional game theory and understanding the decision nodes as the authors described them. The sections that discussed concrete examples in a more narrative form, like the one on the Rock, Paper, Scissors game were much more insightful and easier to follow for me. I did find the analytical framework interesting as it provided a strong case to confirm much of what we already thought about decision making - human beings do not always behave rationally. For example, reciprocity and altruism, a sense of fairness, played large roles in the decision to allocate public goods, often going against the individual maximizing his or her own utility. The computational process models seem like promising means to understanding neural activity but I am curious to see if their use in experiments has moved passed monkeys? Perhaps as the technology and method is perfected, it will be possible to move to models of more complex decision making.
Toggle Commented Oct 6, 2015 on ECON 398 at Jolly Green General
The extraordinary events of the last 5 years have led to changes in macro thought. There was the Great Depression in the 30’s; however, there was no strong Fed responding to the crisis. The main means of recovery were FDR’s new deal, a massive fiscal expansion. For this economic crisis and recovery on the other hand, we have had the full force of the Fed and international monetary agencies used. The results of these new actions taken are largely uncharted and thus, are currently changing macro policy. IMF Chief Economist Blanchard articulated how macro will never be the same. He first discusses the liquidity trap. I thought of this from our discussions in class of “if the Fed’s primary method of controlling the economy is my changing interest rates, what happens when interest rates bottom out and cannot go any lower? Blanchard suggest we should try and avoid this in the future, perhaps through keeping inflation higher. Otherwise, the Fed has used quantitative easing to keep lowering interest rates and stimulate the economy. Secondly, Blanchard talks of the necessity of lender of last resort. This is increasing complex in Europe with the Eurozone and particularly weak countries in the EU. Lastly, the last change is letting the exchange rate absorb capital flows, or move more with the economy—something I’m interested in learning more of the particulars of.
The article helps articulate in a helpful and clear narrative how the Fed stimulates the economy. What I found particularly interesting was the Fed’s method of quantitative easing. We are aware of the means by which the Fed controls the economy through changing the interest rate, but what happens when it approaches the lower bound. The article explains how the fed is using a new method called quantitative easing. Once the price changing mechanism is maxed out, the only other way of change is by changing the quantity. This non-traditional mean seems to have somewhat of an effect, although as the article points out, clearly it is not enough—helpful fiscal policy and a world economy are other exogenous variable important to keep in mind.
Lizz is completely accurate in that the GDP is only an economic indicator and by no means the only important measure of growth. Perhaps, what I gained most from this article is a need for additional measures of calculating the benefits that free internet sites have. Krysta mentioned the benefits to human capital that Wikipedia has for example. There needs to be a way of measuring the benefits to consumers. Pre-internet, buying encyclopedias would mean yes, consumption, but only by those able to afford it. With Wikipedia, that consumption can now be spent in other sectors of the economy, while additionally and more importantly, individuals who did not have previous access to the knowledge through encyclopedias now have the same access to develop their human capital via free websites (a significant technological advancement.) The benefits to society in this regard are endless. Thus, the importance of expanding technological infrastructure should be stressed. The infrastructure itself has a direct result on GDP, and the benefits from this technological infrastructure is real, even though the intermediary companies such as Wikipedia and google maps don’t present an immediate return to GDP.
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2013 on Link from Twitter at Jolly Green General
Monetary policy has a very finite limit that has been stressed perhaps too much in times of crisis. As we have regularly discussed, economists cannot tell the future exactly any more than a weatherman can. In times of economic crisis, as this article details in the 30s, 70s, and recent recession, monetary policy makers take much of the blame for an economic downturn. In kind, often they and others underestimate or under-utilize monetary policy when it is needed most. The article points out how excessive monetary policy is often feared and criticized but argues that toothless monetary policy is equally as dangerous. Thankfully this trend of weak policies has been declining over the course of our last 3 major recessions, but is something to keep in mind in our current economy when debates over the fear of expansionary monetary policy versus sitting back occurs.
There is usually a trade off between unemployment and low interest rates. In recessions, there is the paradox of thrift--decreased spending due to saving more leads to decreased income for others which furthermore leads to less spending and less economic growth. To reverse this downward trend in the short run, the government must somehow stimulate spending, whether through lowering interest rates or trying to decrease unemployment. With a high unemployment rate, since the unemployed's spending obviously is drastically decreased during unemployment, it seems as if the most efficient way of increasing spending is by increasing the spending of a population that is currently spending at a greatly reduced rate--through providing jobs and reducing the unemployment rate. Although there is a trade-off and this has not been the traditional status quo, it is gaining traction with more economic scholars as more creative approaches are being sought to stimulate this sluggish economy.
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Nov 3, 2013