With the exception of a few workaholics, the vast majority of people should enjoy vacations. May wish to ask you a question: When faced with a long holiday, such as the Spring Festival holiday that just passed, when do you think you are happiest?
Some people say that they are happiest when they are not on vacation. For example, the legal holiday of the Spring Festival starts from January 31st on New Year's Eve and ends on February 6th on the sixth day of the first lunar month. Some people begin to feel happy five or six days before the holiday, and this happiness peaks on January 30th. The thought of the upcoming holiday makes one feel empowered. When it comes to the Spring Festival holiday, when I open my eyes, it seems that I am not so happy. And, as the holidays went on, happiness levels began to diminish.
There are also people whose happiness experiences are "delayed". They will arrange the Spring Festival holiday very fulfilling, do a lot of things, or travel to many places. There may not be much time to reflect and experience during the travel process. After the holiday, I will experience the life of the previous few days in detail, and I feel that the harvest is very great and the aftertaste is endless. Their happiness levels peaked after the holiday.
There are also many people whose happiness levels fluctuate as the holidays go on. They didn't think much about it before the holiday. When they opened their eyes on the first day of the new year, they felt a little dazed and didn't know what to do when they thought they didn't have to go to work today. By the next day, still not having to go to work, they were happier. Their happiness peaked on February 4th and began to decline on February 5th, knowing that the holiday "balance" was insufficient and there were only two days left to play. By February 6, they may not be happy at all, about the same as a normal day at work. Some economists call this phenomenon the "Holiday Happiness Curve". The happiness level first increases and then decreases during the holidays, forming an inverted U-shaped curve.
Happy holidays are still very important to us who are busy all day. Some people know that their happiness level will experience such a fluctuation during the holiday, so they try to make it as early as possible, and start to imagine the happiness of the holiday very early. Very disappointed. Others try to curb their happiness during the holidays so that they can be happy after the holidays.
Different people have different views on time. Some people rehearse inwardly what will happen a year or two later, and some people will continue to reminisce about the past. So please think back, is your vision for this holiday on January 30 consistent with your summary of this holiday now? Is this holiday happier or less happy than you thought? If you anticipated today's outcome a week ago, would it make you change your vacation schedule?
In fact, many people will find that the holiday ends up being very different from what they imagined. Plans can’t keep up with changes, many attractions may not be open during the holidays, the quality of many restaurants has dropped significantly, and sudden epidemics always interrupt the perfect plan, and it seems that there are unexpected accidents.
What if I choose to work or study to recharge during the holidays? I believe everyone has experience. Holidays are only suitable for "lying flat", not for studying. All the plans to study hard during the holidays are basically unrealized. There are always unexpected interruptions during the holidays, coupled with the lack of strong willpower, sleep a little more, brush the phone, and the time will pass in a flash. Therefore, regret caused by inconsistent time preferences is a very common phenomenon. What we should do is face up to this and find ways to reduce regret afterwards.
Behavioral economists Lowenstein and Rebin, among others, have proposed a theory to explain this phenomenon called the "speculative preference theory." Simply put, a person only knows the direction of his ex post preference in advance, but cannot fully understand the overall range of his ex post preference. For example, when a high school student chooses a university, of course he knows that the better the weather and the warmer the temperature, the happier he will be. But the importance of weather to college life is likely to be underestimated. Only when I went to college did I realize that I couldn’t have a party outside when it was snowing, I couldn’t chat with more people if I couldn’t have a party, and having few opportunities to have a party would make me very unhappy. These are all lessons that can only be summed up after going to college and experiencing it for a period of time.
By the same token, we don't necessarily know exactly how we're going to spend the vacation before it starts. When I used to study, I often went to the library to borrow a bunch of books before the holidays, so that I could study hard during the holidays. But by the end of the holiday, none of the books had been turned over and returned untouched. That's because you don't know yourself well enough to imagine your true state on vacation. Today, I no longer do such fantasies. Holidays are rest, and it is not easy to ensure that the show will continue to be updated after the holiday.
Another inspiring example in real life is shopping. Maybe today we are mainly shopping online, but as long as the epidemic eases, many people still prefer to go to shopping malls and supermarkets for on-site shopping, and like the feeling that they can see and touch the goods with their own eyes. Especially when buying fresh vegetables and meat, we can't always trust the dishes selected by online platforms for us.
When we take our purchases home, we often find that we bought a lot of unplanned things, such as some unhealthy snacks. Maybe we just saw it on sale, or just saw it on hand and put it in the cart. But I bought it all, and I was reluctant to throw it away, so I finally ate it.
The time inconsistency problem arises again in this example. When we put products into the shopping cart, we must feel that we like to eat these, and we should eat them, and then we make a choice, and we regret it when we return home. What should be done to effectively reduce the possibility of blind shopping and regret afterwards?
Several behavioral economists have done an interesting field experiment. They stopped people who were going to go shopping at the entrance of the supermarket, told them that they were doing a survey, hoped that the subjects would cooperate, and asked them to make a list of the products they were going to buy. After writing, the people in the experimental group ate a muffin cake first, and then went in to shop; the people in the control group went shopping first and could eat a muffin cake when they came out.
Several behavioral economists have done an interesting field experiment that tells us to try not to go to the supermarket when you are very hungry. That way, you will buy a lot of things you didn't want to buy.
The subjects were stopped after shopping, recorded what they actually bought, and compared it with the shopping list. The researchers found that, regardless of the experimental group or the control group, both groups bought a lot of products that were not on the list, indicating that this is human nature and it is unavoidable. However, 51% of the items purchased by the control group were not on the shopping list, more than half, while only 34% of the items purchased by the experimental group were not on the shopping list, accounting for about 1/3. The only difference between the two is that the people in the experimental group ate an extra muffin cake before entering the mall.
This experiment tells us that try not to go to the supermarket when you are very hungry. That way, you will buy a lot of things you didn't want to buy.
This is an important discovery. Previous economic research believed that people's choices are independent. For example, whether I will sell a stock today has nothing to do with whether I have a fight with my wife when I go out. But now everyone infers from their own experience that the two are probably related. The events we face may be individual events, but people live in a continuous time. The Spring Festival holiday has just passed, and I have to work overtime this Sunday. The events before and after will affect the calm thinking of personal decision-making.
Lowenstein also proposed an interesting set of concepts of cold state and hot state, which can effectively explain this speculation bias. The so-called cold state is a state in which instinctive factors are not very active. At this time, our minds are calm, our judgments are clear, and we can accurately use our own rationality to make decisions. Corresponding to the hot state, it is a state in which the instinctive factors are very active. For example, when we rush into the supermarket to shop hungry, we may be in a hot state at this time. At this point, instinct will overwhelm reason, making people make more irrational choices.
The difference between the cold state and the hot state is very large. When we are in a cold state, it is often difficult to imagine our psychology when we are in a hot state, overestimating our own rationality and overestimating our willpower to resist temptation. Just like when we go home from shopping, after eating, when we take out the potato chips one by one from the shopping bag, we often reflect on why I buy so many potato chips, because it is not that I have never eaten them, and they are not so attractive. man. This is because in the process of alternating between our hot and cold states, we have lost the ability to effectively infer our own utility. This phenomenon is also called the "hot cold empathy gap", which is difficult to bridge.
There are many concrete examples of the existence of this hot and cold emotional divide. The existence of divorce, for example, reflects temporal inconsistencies and proves the existence of a divide. Both parties to the marriage have supported the marriage in the past to get married. But after a period of time, I found that I was wrong and had to choose a divorce. When married, both parties are in a hot state, overestimating the benefits and underestimating the costs as judged in a calm state. Therefore, the emotional gap between hot and cold may lead to the breakdown of long-term agreements, long-term contracts, including marriage.
Another example is that the emotional gap between hot and cold can lead to some self-control problems. Buying potato chips and affecting weight loss is an example; quitting smoking is an example; TikTok and playing games are another example; There are too many such examples. In the past, there were not so many addictives around us, mainly traditional addictives such as smoking and drinking. But today, with the development of the mobile Internet, many new products are directly aimed at our self-control ability, and are designed and built directly in the direction of addictive products.
In fact, the vast majority of people have some problems with their self-control, regardless of gender, age, or child, as a child, and as they get older. Of course, everyone's addiction is different. Some people are addicted to playing games, and some people are addicted to drinking. Every time one is exposed to these addictive substances, one is in a state of heat and cannot control oneself. And when it's cold, you'll regret it.
Many scholars have pointed out that since there is no way to control the hot and cold emotional gap, it is also a solution to try to make full use of the benefits it brings to us. For example, some friends I know have the inspiration for writing or artistic creation only in the middle of the night. When night falls, people feel excited, but they don’t feel it during the day. Then simply adjust your schedule to be out at night, sleep during the day, and work at night. As long as you can work effectively in the hot state and not feel guilty about it in the cold state, you can come to terms with yourself.