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Which Is More Effective: Anger, Calm Or Happiness?

Rawn Shah

Which of these three do you think is more effective at creating Commitment: Anger, Calm or Happiness? In reading Eyal Winter’s book, Feeling Smart: Why Our Emotions Are More Rational Than We Think (PublicAffairs, Dec 2014), I came across an interesting research in psychology that describes the human condition. His book very amicably explains behavioral economics and game theory—how we behave when making decisions and choices on both rational and emotional levels. [A review is forthcoming.]

In the book, Prof. Winter describes a particular experiment at the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, a version of the Dictator game in experimental economics, first developed by psychologist Daniel Kahneman (winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics).

In the game, one player is given a sum of money. Both players are told that the player holding the money (the Giver) has the option of sharing some of the money with the other player (the Receiver) or keeping it all for themselves. The Giver alone has the decision power on how much they will share, and how generous the will be.

The basic goal of such a game is to understand how much concern people have for their own well being over others, and how generous they behave in different situations. It changes with the norms of the society you are part of, and can also change with other stressors.

In this variation of the game, the groups of players were also told that they would be compensated if they received only a small amount from the Giver. However, the first group was told to receive compensation they would have to get angry and the amount was proportional to their anger level. The second group was told the compensation would be in meter to their level of happiness they expressed. The third group was simply told to keep calm. To test their degree of feelings, they were connected to skin conductivity measuring device similar to the electronic stress testers, even in some of today’s smartphones; and they were asked questions on their levels as well.

PUBLISHED: 3/09/2015. By Rawn Shah
COPYRIGHT © 2015 Forbes.com LLC™

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