Decision trees be damned: Part II

By Danette Vernon

In Part I of this series I presented the fairytale of having to decide between two amazing career choices and three good men.

With our economy still struggling with its own treacherous rebirth, many of you may frown at the likelihood of even one remarkable career option presenting itself out of the general fog of the future.

What about three good men?

Don’t make a nasty face, all of you naysayers. They do exist. Once having accepted this fact as reality, imagine that your sister is a participant on one of those live-action bachelor or bachelorette shows. Let’s revel for a moment in how much you might enjoy cat-calling her decisions as the show progresses.

Then let’s pretend that it’s your turn on the merry-go-round of love, and its real life. It’s not TV.

How would you decide between great, better, and best ever? “Eenie meenie miney mo” has lost fashion, despite its decisive nature. So in response to the loss of this, and many other eminent childhood aids for resolving sticky situations (Bubble gum, Bubble gum in a dish?), you might, just by default, plan an informal comparison study of these three good men, with five of your “bestest” friends.

Duke University’s Behavior Economist, Dan Ariely, demonstrates through a simple experiment that we are more likely to be influenced by those who are in our perceived in-group, even against our better judgment. He found that college students cheated more, if someone in the group made it obvious that they had cheated on some basic math problems — and the cheater was wearing an alma mater shirt. If someone wearing a shirt from a rival school made it obvious they had cheated, there was even less cheating than normal. No one wanted to be associated with cheating that originated with an “out” group. In other words, people are more easily influenced by those we perceive to be like us, and less so with those we perceive to be different.

So, if you decide to “date by committee,” and check with your friends as to whom you might date, this study lays bare the fact that you may be heavily influenced to pick one man over another — no matter the quality of the advice. Not because of long-term ties, but because your friends resemble you.

Albert Einstein noted that we “cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”

To wit, if you are going to search outside of yourself for answers, you may have to look for those unlike yourself, so that you at least have a chance at infiltrating what has become habitual thinking for yourself, and your own personal in-group.

In order to successfully solicit advice on life’s deeper questions from those who live in high contrast to you and your friends, Ash Beckman, Equality Advocate, tells us that we need to do three things.  One, we have to reach a new level of authenticity ourselves. Two, we may have to find within ourselves the ability to be direct with the force of bandage removed. Three, never apologize for your truth.

Beckman advices, you must “be real, to get real in return.”

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