This post is a follow up to “The (not so) rational man.”
As mentioned in the previous psychobabble post, we want to take a closer look at why a person will justify things differently in a seemingly identical situation. As for a refresher, here are our situations.
Copied from last post…
I will give you 100$ in one year, or I will give you 101$ in a year and one day. Which will you choose?
-Almost every single person sampled chooses 101$ in 366 days. When asked, “why not 100 dollars a day earlier,” they reply, “well I’m already waiting a year, what’s one day.”
I will give you 100$ now, or 100$ in one day. Which will you choose?
-Almost everyone chooses 100$ now. When asked why, “well I can use that now, one dollar is no big deal.”
This shines a light on the issues with the expected utility theory, but SOCIAL psychology is more concerned with the justification. Justification for their feeling, or their behavior occurs when they say, “well I’m already waiting one yer,” or “well what’s just 1 dollar anyways.”
In the first scenario, the person is having to wait 1 year. They have to accept that waiting a long period of time does not annoy them in order to keep from feeling dissonance from this information. So if they decided that waiting an extra day at this point meant something to them, it would make the 365 day wait appear quite meaningful to them. So, for the sake of consistency, they must say, “one day does not matter to me,” as consistency is an extremely important factor for our self esteem. Therefore, money>time.
In the second scenario, the person has to decide between having money now, or waiting till the next day. When they choose to have it now, they must justify that one dollar is not a significant amount of money, and waiting one day is a significant amount of time. Therefore, time>money. This justification serves to once again reduce dissonance once a decision has been made.
So a few terms have been introduced that warrant further explanation – dissonance, self-esteem (contingencies of self worth to be more precise), and psychological consistency. The next post will tackle cognitive dissonance, as it is one of the most important factor that drives our not-so-rational behavior.