Akrasia

Thinking more about distraction and the notion of akrasia. A lack of self-control or the state of acting against one's better judgment

A few takes on it summarised from this Wikipedia page.

  • Donald Davidson: when people act in this way, they temporarily believe that the worse course of action is better, because they have not made an all-things-considered judgment, but only a judgment based on a subset of possible considerations.

  • Different motivations can conflict with each other. Reason and emotion. Believing that one should do A rather than B, but still end up wanting to do B more than A.

  • George Ainslie: hyperbolic discounting causes us to make different judgements close to a reward than we will when further from it.

These points led to thinking about The marshmallow test. What might motivate our decision making? Take the treat now or wait and get two later. Be distracted now or stay on task.

Hot and cool ways of thinking. Cool remembers to consider and take notice of long term outcomes. Hot is impulsive. Cool is to the fore when the setting conditions are right. Hot takes the lead when we're feeling under threat.

The Hot System (Go!) is: emotional, simple, reflexive, fast, and centered in the amygdala. It develops early in the child and is exacerbated by stress.

The Cool System (Know), on the other hand, is: cognitive rather than emotional, complex, reflective, slow, and centered in the frontal lobes and hippocampus. It develops later in the child and is made weaker by stress.

In the Hot System the stimulus controls us; in the Cool System we control the stimulus. Link

Hot motivates immediate gratification. It's a safety measure. Act now before it's too late kind of thing. Noticing when we're running hot seems like a good idea. The amygdala is in some ways well behind the times.

Relax. Take care of your environment. Be kind to yourself. Cool down your thinking. Consider the longer term and align your actions with your chosen future.


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