Logic Archive

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Three Key Emotional Triggers

Manifestation of NeedsThe first key emotional trigger I will explore from the aspects of behavior, thought and emotion is security. More formally it’s long-term security. So, the question is this: If security is important to someone how will it manifest itself in behavior, thought and emotion? Again, in an attempt to simplify, I express these manifestations as the keywords of strength, knowledge and spirit respectively.

When security is important to us, our behavior will orient around strengthening whether it’s our things, our ideas, others or ourselves. For instance, taking aggressive action to rectify a situation reflects making something strong that is weak. Giving people comfort and aid, helping them to feel “safe and secure” reflects the same underlying security need, in this case as a solution to their problem.

In our thoughts, security orients around knowledge. “Knowledge is power” is an example of this association. Enforcing legalities is the “force of law,” our ideas as to the regulation of our societies. In the same sense, logic allows us to know what will come next. Exclaiming, “If I had only known that . . . ” frequently reflects a security need.

When it comes to emotion, security reflects in our spirit, our essence. Faith, confidence, optimism and destiny are examples of emotional states conveying that essence. “You need to pull yourself up” and “We need to feel safe,” are just two emotional expressions of a security orientation.

Granted all of us, at some moments, will need and want security. Yet, how we interpret and rationalize these moments is personal. What we might interpret as a situation requiring reinforcement another might interpret as requiring something new or requiring some special skill. In the long run, over many moments, our behavior, thoughts and emotions will display their tendencies.

So, who do you know displays strong security needs?

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Personality Behind Words 08 YellowIncreasingly, we are seeing the connection between all that we do and our personalities. Why is this  “groundbreaking?” For centuries now, we’ve assumed people are products of their decisions. Educate people with good logic and good decisions will follow. Historically, we’ve expressed this as free will. It then invaded economics with the rational actor decision-making model. The problem is that it doesn’t work.

Inside us is software called “personality.” It’s almost as difficult to violate as it is for computers to violate their software. It can predict human decision making almost as well as it can for computers. Just as behavioral economics is overrunning classical economics, it’s doing so in business and politics.

Admittedly, the accuracy with people is significantly less than with computers but it’s enough to assess people from their Twitter streams (“No Hiding Place” [The Economist, May 25, 2013 edition]). It’s also enough for Google to invest in Obama’s data mining operations (Google’s Eric Schmidt Invests in Obama’s Big Data Brains [Bloomberg Businessweek – May 30, 2013] by Joshua Green).

This wouldn’t occur if exquisite, rational, debate-styled arguments worked. These take no more hold on people than seeds in rocky soil . . . unless we present it in an emotional, relational manner similar to advertising, marketing and merchandising.

Today, it’s about finding people inclined to buy and vote a certain way and then “encouraging” them to do so. Plant the right seeds in the right soil and farm them. Just as we can predict what might grow on a particular farm, we can predict what thoughts will grow in personalities. This extends beyond purchasing and voting. Twitter feeds help you find relationally compatible kindred spirits for all purposes.

What kind of personality is in your Twitter stream? Just look in the mirror.

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Decision Making with Computers

As our information, analysis and decisions become uncertain, computers become less effective as decision-making tools.

Chess is a relatively easy decision-making task for computers. Thus, historically, the defeat of Garry Kasparov by Deep Blue was inconsequential when we consider computers still have problems with Go and Poker. The question is, “Why?”

The article, “3 Humans + 1 Computer = Best Prediction” (Harvard Business Review, May 2013 edition) by Matthias Seifert and Allègre Hadida, gives excellent insight into this question. Pragmatically, the answer will help us use computers better as tools in our decision-making. Their conclusion is that it’s a matter of certainty, certainty relative to our information, analysis and decisions.

A wealth of historical information generally represents high informational certainty. Knowing how to analyze this information to form conclusions represents high analytical certainty. Knowing how these conclusions form a decision represents high decision-making certainty. Another way to look at certainty is structure. The more structured and logical the information, analysis and decision are the more effective a computer becomes as our tool.

For example, introducing a proven product into a similar market will have a wealth of historical data, of experience in interpreting that data, and of decisions to make from those interpretations. Conversely, introducing new, very different products in a dissimilar market won’t have this certainty. Computers help more in the first situation than they do in the second.

Thus, computers will be less helpful when:

  • Information is scarce or highly variable without a discernible pattern
  • Information produces many divergent conclusions
  • Conclusions don’t present a clear cut decision

The problem is that we have a tendency to ascribe much more help to computer models than we should in these situations. We need to remember that no matter what the model says, we most likely have more experience than the computer.

 

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IncompetenceConfidence frequently indicates incompetence. However, leadership often requires confidence. Since people often fear uncertainty, they naturally gravitate to people who provide certainty, and confidence is a form of certainty. We can partially resolve this paradox by asking, “Is the person confident or merely being confident?” This question allows us to see confidence as a psychological weapon of leadership.

In school, we learn debate is rooted in arguments supported by evidence, an objective battle won by stronger facts and arguments. In real-life, we learn it’s more of an emotional contest. Political debates are excellent examples, but even our daily work environments contain examples.

Again, it’s more than good emotions battling bad emotions because people frequently don’t behave the way they claim they do. For instance, people say they value trust and honesty, but in reality, eloquence trumps both. In the end, conviction is often more potent than logic.

Confidence is a form of conviction about outcomes. Martyrs are examples of the power behind convictions. Someone willing to die for what something influences us immensely. Therefore, in many business debates, conviction around weak arguments and facts can easily overrun strong but hesitant, hedging ones. Moreover, since how we feel about the messenger influences how we interpret the message (more), people, especially leaders, can easily influence us if they have conviction and a good relationship with us . . . even when the facts contradict what they say. We sometimes experience this at work when we say someone has great will or will power.

We protect ourselves by being aware of the power confidence holds over us. Raising this to a conscious level is the key. This is true for many subliminal influences. So, next time you run into confidence, ask yourself “Are they using confidence as a smoke screen for incompetence?”

 

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ProcessesRules are a form of logic especially when used in a series to form instructions. A step builds on the former step and sets up the next. All one has to do is follow the instructions. They can transform an ordinary worker into a good one.

For example, I am not a good pool player. I rarely play or practice. However, when I’m paired with a friend of mine who is very good, I become a much better when I just do what he tells me to do.

Relating this to business, in the article, “Making It in America” (The Atlantic, January/February 2012 edition) by Adam Davidson, I ran across this passage (p. 65):

The last time I visited the factory, Maddie was training a new worker. Teaching her to operate the machine took just under two minutes. Maddie then spent about 25 minutes showing her the various instructions Standard engineers have prepared to make certain that the machine operator doesn’t need to use her own judgment.

In effect, the instructions transfer the engineers’ talent (at a higher labor cost) to a production worker (at a much lower labor cost). Augmenting this, we can turn a collection of instructions into processes. If repeatable, we can automate and computerize these processes.

Here is the point: rules are the atoms of large enterprises. Since it’s harder to find 6,000 talented workers than to find 60, rules reduce the pressure to find talent. In effect, we cannot scale without rules.

Nevertheless, a cost to rules plants the seeds for large enterprises’ demise in the form of reduced adaptability. The deeper cost is the building of cultures more conditioned to following rules than to thinking about or, more importantly, challenging them.

 

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This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Intelligence vs Wisdom

As I had posted earlier, one cannot be wise without sensitivity to the human condition. This means wisdom has innate, emotional, intangible and synergistic attributes, making it more dependent on the person than intelligence is and thus more magical. We can see this if we dive into the various aspects of wisdom as seen in Figure 1 and order them hierarchically along these attributes.

Wisdom's Magical Hierarchy

Figure 1: Wisdom’s Magical Hierarchy

Information occupies the bottom. Even computers collect it. Above is knowledge, combining the information into themes, theories, categories and disciplines. Reason comes next, linking bodies of knowledge in ways that make them applicable. At some point, we apply these three to create experiences. However, what two people learn from the same experience will differ, thus giving experience innateness.

Part of what makes the same experience different is situational awareness. People are born with differing levels of awareness, allowing some to extract more from each drop of experience than others do. Above this is intuition. It provides direction so we can sift through all the other aspects more efficiently and effectively. Finally, creativity applies all of these (information, knowledge, reason, experience, awareness and intuition) to solve everyday problems. Since every event is unique, we will need creativity to apply what we’ve learned to our situation.

As we move up the hierarchy, we progress from those aspects of wisdom that are more learned to more innate, more logical to emotional, more tangible to intangible, and more additive to synergistic. For instance, two married individuals produce much more than just the sum of their personalities. This also applies in business to create a more innovative and creative environment.

It’s the innate, emotional, intangible and synergistic attributes of these seven aspects of wisdom that give it a magical, wizardry sense. It’s why we can quantify intelligence but not wisdom.

 

Related post: Intelligence vs. Wisdom: Primary Difference

 

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Personality & PoliticsPeople often believe that political views are a battle of ideas. In reality, they are more a battle of personality types. People also believe people are important. “I am a people person,” is a common self-descriptor. Daily though, we discount people without consciously realizing we do.

For instance, saying politics is a battle of ideas, we are saying ideas are more important than people are. A key aspect of humans is their personality. Discounting personality’s influence is discounting people. Our personalities’ dominance is why such things as education and facts don’t influence as much as other people and people’s own personalities do. Increasingly, research shows our personality and genes playing a huge role.

The work of John Jost (New York University), Brian Nosek (University of Virginia) and Samuel Gosling (University of Texas) highlights this influence. this interview of Jost, he shares how simple things like music and knickknacks can indicate political orientation.

The article, “Body Politic” (The Economist, October 6, 2012 edition), goes even further by highlighting the genetic work of Peter Hatemi (Pennsylvania State University) and Rose McDermott (Brown University):

In the matter of both political outlook and political participation, it is coming to be seen that genes matter quite a lot. . . . They are not the be-all and end-all. But, . . . they affect a person’s views of the world almost as much as his circumstances do, and far more than many social scientists have been willing, until recently, to admit.

We aren’t born as “blank slates.” Birth gives us innate qualities that influence our views beyond the reach of reason and logic. To discount people and their personalities in decision-making is. . . well . . . unreasonable and illogical.

 

Here are links to the entire series of videos in the discussion, “The Psychology of the Political Left & Right:

This is the link to Jost’s, Nosek’s and Gosling’s work on the nature of ideology: Ideology: Its Resurgence in Social, Personality, and Political Psychology

 

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OZA No 292 (Emotion & Intuition as Foundation for All Decisions)One of the more contrarian perspectives that has helped me appreciate people’s decisions is that emotions and its interpretive big sister, intuition, form their foundation. Even a logical decision comes about because of a person’s emotional preference for logic.

While this does not mean logic, reason and rationales are not involved; it does mean they take a secondary, dependent role similar to the way the frame of a house is dependent upon the foundation. In our decision-making, it means we select the rationale (frame) to fit our emotional preferences (foundation), which we more commonly experience as rationalizing.

Increasingly though, as technology and research methodologies advance, science supports this. For instance, the article, “Captain Kirk’s Revenge” (The Economist, December 23, 2006 edition), discusses a person who lost his emotional functions in his brain could not make decisions even though the rational portions were in tack. However, those who lost their rational functions could still do so if their emotional ones remained.

This is understandable when we consider people need motivation to make decisions and motivation is emotional. Rationales alone won’t motivate unless they stimulate our emotions. That is why the root word of emotions is “motion.” It’s active, whereas logic, reason and rationale are inert.

We further see the progress in this perspective with the research of Roderick Gilkey, Ricardo Caceda, and Clinton Kilts. In their article, “When Emotional Reasoning Trumps IQ” (Harvard Business Review, September 2010 edition), they found that the best strategic thinkers showed “significantly less neural activity in the prefrontal cortex [rational functional area of brain] than in the areas associated with ‘gut’ responses, empathy, and emotional intelligence.”

Since we are often experiencing these emotions on an unconscious level, we could feel completely rational. Consequently, all our decisions are emotional ones. We just might not believe it.

 

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This entry is part 11 of 15 in the series Creative Innovation

Business prizes quantification; yet, ironically, it restricts creativity and innovation in two ways:

  • Encouraging electrical activity in our brains which restricts idea generation
  • Compelling people to confine their ideas to the quantifiable ones

Evangelia G. Chrysikou’s article “Put Your Creative Brain to Work” (Scientific American Mind, July/August 2012 edition, pgs: 26-27) summarizes the body of research to date by saying “idea generation is associated with a state of lower cognitive control” and

. . . generating novel applications for objects also seems to benefit from less filtering of knowledge and experiences, which enables people to consider a greater variety of possible answers.

Essentially, high cognitive control of our brain emits different electrical waves (beta) than low cognitive control (alpha) does. In Heidi K. Gardner’s article, “Coming Through When It Matters Most” (Harvard Business Review, April 2012 edition), we find quantification correlates to people’s need for certainty and conservatism by writing:

In high pressure situations . . . [people] support their responses with hard, usually quantitative, evidence instead of anecdotes and comparisons . . . Enthusiasm for innovation and improvisation gives way to concern for strict professionalism and covering all the basis.

My previous post, “Knowledge States”, helps us see the restrictive nature of quantification by the amount of knowledge we filter from the problem when we do so. This is partially why altering our normal problem-solving process (i.e. don’t worry about quantifying the problem or aspects of it) can be such an effective problem-solving technique.

Thus, the focus on numbers not only alters us physiologically in terms of the electrical waves our brains emit but also mentally in terms of compelling us to filter out unquantifiable knowledge that might contain the solution. Let’s face reality: problems are like squirrels. Neither goes away simply because we cannot quantify them.

 

Related posts:

 

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This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Education Bias

Problems With Asking, "Do You Understand?"An education bias overlooks the profound impact of feelings, emotions and intuition on thinking in choice. Leadership is the most poignant example. Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman, managing directors at Corporate Executive Board, state in their article, “To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple” (Harvard Business Review, May 2012 edition):

. . . the [leader] cuts through the seemingly infinite options and provides decision-making criteria.

This occurs many times because the information by which we educate ourselves becomes so overwhelming as to render us powerless to think and act. From this perspective, leaders serve a function, even if it’s simply influential teenage girls suggesting to their peers what to wear and do by reporting their activities on various social media sites.

However, seen from a darker perspective, we not only see leadership’s dark side but also the impotency of facts and education in the face of eloquent leaders. In effect, knowledge is not power for it’s how we process that knowledge that is the real power. When it comes to that process, it’s not facts but the leader which has more power over it.

Thus, when we ask people, “Do they understand?” it’s irrelevant if the leaders people like support something else. This is where the two aspects of interpersonal relationships come into play: the knowledge from education (red) is subservient to the passion of the leader (blue). In other words, people may understand but their agreement, volition and heart rest with the leader.

Therefore, an education bias puts too much faith – and that’s what it really is, faith – in facts, knowledge, logic, reason and science to win the day. There are stronger emotional powers at work, especially those originating from leaders. That is why influencing is more a function of cultures and relationships than of data, information, strategies and vision.

 

 

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