Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kitap: Explaining Social Behavior

Explaining Social Behavior, Jon Elster, 2007, 484 sayfa

Sosyal davranışların anlaşılabilmesi için fikirler ve açıklamalar sunuyor, basit çıkarımların neden olabileceği hataları gösteriyor. Özellikle ilk bakışta aptalca/tutarsız/irrasyonel görünen davranışların ardında yatanlar ilgimi çekti (örnek: bahşiş geleneği). Geniş bir yelpazeyi tarıyor, seçim barajının, anayasanın ve Anayasa Mahkemesi'nin nasıl olması gerektiğine kadar ipuçları veriyor.

Kitapta işaretlediğim kısımlar:
[p.6] ...human beings want to be rational. The desire to have sufficient reasons for one's behavior, and not simply be a plaything of psychic forces acting "behind one's back," provides a permanent counterforce to the many irrationality-generating mechanisms that I survey in this book.

[p.15] Montaigne wrote, "I realize that if you ask people to account for 'facts,' they usually spend more time finding reasons for them than finding out whether they are true... They skip over the facts but carefully deduce inferences. They normally begin thus: 'How does this come about?' But does it do so? That is what they ought to be asking."

[p.20] One has consistently to think against oneself - to make matters as difficult as possible for oneself as one can. We should select the strongest and most plausible alternative rival explanations, rather than accounts that can easily be refuted.

[p.22] In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville discussed the alleged casual connection between marrying for love and having an unhappy marriage. He points out that this connection obtains only in societies in which such marriages are the exception and arranged marriages are the rule. Only stubborn people will go against the current, and two stubborn persons are not likely to have a very happy marriage. In addition, people who go against the current are treated badly by their more conformist peers, inducing bitterness and unhappiness.

[p.29] ...for predictive purposes the distinction among correlation, necessitation, and explanation becomes pointless. If there is a lawlike regularity between one type of event and another, it does not matter - for predictive purposes - whether is is due to a casual relation between them or to their being common effects of a third cause.

[p.35] ...for some goods demand goes up when prices go up. Consumers may be attracted to a good because it is expensive (the "Veblen effect") or buy less of a good such as bread when its price falls because they can afford to replace some of it by higher-quality goods such as meat (the "Giffen effect").

[p.46] Absence lessens moderate passions and intensifies great ones, as the wind blows out a candle but fans up a fire.

[p.54] The person who has decided to quit smoking yet accepts the offer of a cigarette acts on a reason, namely, a desire to smoke. For an action to be rational, however, it has to be optimal in light of the totality of reasons, not just one of them.

[p.58] That people adjust their aspirations to their circumstances so that they maintain a more less constant level of satisfaction ("the hedonic treadmill") is a pretty well-established psychological finding.

[p.91] Cognitive dissonance theory predicts that when one motivation is slightly stronger than another, it will try to recruit allies so that the reasons on one side become decisively stronger. The unconscious mind shops around, as it were, for additional arguments in favor of the tentative conclusion reached by the conscious mind. The converse phenomenon, in which the conscious mind tries to find a reason for a decision reached by the unconscious one, also occurs.

[p.100] ...there are so many plausible-sounding normative conceptions of justice, fairness, or the common good that a person would have to be unlucky or incompetent if she failed to locate one that (according to some plausible-sounding casual theory) coincided with her self-interest.

[p.126] The intolerance of uncertainty and ignorance flows not only from pridefulness, but from a universal human desire to find meanings and patterns everywhere.

[p.127] This conspiratorial or paranoid cast of mind is largely immune to refutation, since believers in a conspiracy theory will find it confirmed by lack of evidence or even by contrary evidence, which they interpret as signs of the devilishly clever nature of conspirators... incompetence not only causes poor cognitive performance, but also the inability to recognize that one's competence is poor. The incompetent are doubly handicapped.

[p.128] Often, the problem is not lack of information, but an abundance of it, combined with the lack of a formal procedure for integrating it into an all-things considered opinion.

[p.135] In rationalization, the behavior occurs first and the belief follows... In wishful thinking and self-deception, we observe the opposite sequence.

[p.157] ...we easily believe what we fear.

[p.159] I can tell myself a story in which the other obtained the envied object by illegitimate and immoral means, and perhaps at my expense, thus transmuting the envy into Aristotelian indignation or anger... "Those whom they injure, they also hate" (Seneca).

[p.174] Participation in collective action requires the ability to take time off from productive activities, which is precisely what the impoverished peasant cannot afford... Marx argued that civilization arose in the temperate zones because only there did the desire for improvement meet with opportunities for improvement.

[p.183] ...what differentiates rescuers from non-rescuers is the situation in which they find themselves rather than their personality.

[p.186] Rather than saying, "You are a bad person," thereby leaving little room for hope or change, they should make an effort to say, "You did a bad thing." The latter phrasing leaves open the possibility that the action in question might have been triggered by specific situational factors, such as a provocative remark by the other spouse.

[p.214] We may define hyper-rationality as the propensity to search for the abstractly optimal decision, that is, the decision that would be optimal if we were to ignore the cost of the decision-making process itself.

[p.221] Loss aversion is the tendency for people to attach larger value (in absolute terms) to a loss from the reference level than the same-sized gain. Empirically, the ratio is found to be about 2.5 to 1...

[p.279] Natural selection (in this classical picture) is constrained to small incremental improvements. The organism climbs along a fitness gradient until it reaches a local maximum, defined as a state in which all further one-step changes would reduce fitness. Although there may be higher peaks in "the adaptive landscape," these will not be attainable by one-step changes.

[p.281] Whether the global maximum occurs is a matter of relative speed of two processes: the extinction of inferior varieties and the rate at which favorable mutations occur. There is no mechanism, however, that could mimic, in a systematic way, the capacity of intentional beings to preempt, to wait, or to use indirect strategies.

[p.290] ...the hypothesis must also explain facts over and above those it was constructed to explain..., and preferably "novel facts" that were unknown until predicted by the hypothesis.

[p.309] The failure to see others as intentional and maximizing agents is observed when legislators or administrators propose policies that are undermined when agents adjust to them.

[p.325] To establish a durable system that will be accepted without opposition, one must act on a principle.

[p.326] When there are many competing qualitative grounds on which people can claim superiority - wisdom, wealth, virtue, birth - the quantitative solution of majority rule acquires unique salience.

[p.337] It is not that people cannot understand, on reflection, that others are as rational and capable of deliberation as they are themselves, only that their spontaneous tendency is to think about others as set in their habits rather than as adjusting to their environments.

[p.368] The fact that waiters often pool their tips also undermines the efficiency argument. I do not know why there is a norm to tip in certain occupations and not in others. Once a norm exists, however, we can understand why people tip: they simply do not like the idea that others, such as a disappointed taxi driver, might disapprove of them, even if they do not expect to meet them again.

[p.376] The majority no longer believes, but still appears to believe, and this hollow ghost of public opinion is enough to chill the blood of would-be innovators and reduce them to respectful silence.

[p.407] If speakers are motivated by a sincere desire to promote the public good, argument and debate may change their beliefs in ways that induce a change in policy preferences. This is especially likely to occur if the various members of a group have access to different information, so that they can improve the quality of their decisions by pooling their knowledge [not their conclusions]. If the body is a representative one, it is then important to select delegates with widely different backgrounds. In electing representatives to national assembly, for instance, this consideration speaks in favor of proportional voting with low threshold or no threshold at all.

[p.438] To prevent dogmatic or ideological judges on the Constitutional Court or the Supreme Court from ignoring large popular majorities, it should be possible to dismiss them if there is a super-majority (two thirds or three quarters).

[p.439] ..."constitutions" are chains with which men bind themselves in their sane moments that they may not die by a suicidal hand in the day of their frenzy."

[p.459] The measurement of public opinion presupposes that there is a stable opinion to be measured. It is well known, however, that irrelevant changes in the questions can make big differences for the response. "Do you favor A?" elicits very different answers from "Do you favor A if the alternative is B?" even when it is clear that B is the only alternative to A.

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