Why happy endings can lead to bad decisions, even when voting

Call it the happy ending effect.

Our brains tend to give more weight to the later part of an experienceno matter how good it was overall. This can lead to poor decisions and, によると to a small study published Monday, it’s a fundamental mechanism involving two different parts of the human brain.
When you’re deciding where to go for dinner, 例えば, you think about where you’ve had a good meal in the past,” said Martin Vestergaard, a research associate at the University of Cambridge’s department of physiology, development and neuroscience, in a press statement.
But your memory of whether that meal was good isn’t always reliableour brain values the final few moments of the experience more highly than the rest of it.
    A similar phenomenon can also be seen in politics, said Vestergaard.
    Our attraction to the quality of the final moment of an experience is exploited by politicians seeking re-election; they will always try to appear strong and successful towards the end of their time in office,” said Vestergaard.
    If you fall for this trick, and disregard historical incompetence and failure, then you might end up re-electing an unfit politician.
    In the study, Vestergaard looked at the parts of the brain that fire up when we make decisions based on past experience.
    He asked 27 male volunteers to choose which of two virtual pots of coinsviewed on a screen after one anotherhad the greatest value, while a brain scanner revealed what was happening in their brains. The size of the coins, which fell from the pots, represented their value and the task was repeated several times with different sequences of coins. The participants got a small cash prize for co
    The volunteers systematically chose the wrong pot when the coins decreased in size towards the end of the sequence, the study found. The effect varied from person to person, but only a few were able to ignore it entirely and make a completely rational decision.
    This shows that the attraction to the final moments of an experience is hard wired in our brains, said the study, which was published in the Journal Of Neuroscience.
    If we can’t control our in-built attraction to happy endings, then we can’t trust our choices to serve our best interests,” Vestergaard said.
    Sometimes the phenomenon is described asbanker’s fallacy,” the tendency to focus on short term growth at the expense of long-term value.
    The experiment also challenged the popular belief that poor decision-making is routed in the amygdalasometimes regarded as the primitive part of our brain.
    The researchers found that evaluating an extended experience was encodedrobustlyin the amygdala, whereas a part of the brain called the anterior insula was responsible for marking down the overall experience if it ends more negatively. The two different parts compete with each other when we make these kinds of decisions.
    The attraction to the final moments of an experience is a fundamental mechanism in the human brain and important to be aware of, say the researchers.
      While there are advantages to paying attention to whether things are on an upward or downward trajectory, our judgment can fail us when we try to evaluate an overall experience afterward.
      Sometimes it’s worth taking the time to stop and think. Taking a more analytical approach to complement your intuitive judgment can help ensure you’re making a rational decision,” said Vestergaard.

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