Try to have a conversation with someone in which you try to get them to do something (i.e. eat a packet of catsup, shave a cat, etc.) that is kind of or really odd in two different scenarios. In the first, you develop a strong argument with 4 or more reasons why they should decide to do what you want. In a second situation, provide only one reason and make it pretty weak (i.e. Give me an A in class even though I have done no work this semester. My cat has been trying to explode my head using its mind.) Tell what happens.
The first thing I tried to get my husband to do was to hide and hunt Easter eggs. We have been married almost seven years but have never done this. He was really surprised when I asked, but I gave him four good reasons:
- It was our daughter’s first Easter, and I wanted to start the tradition for her (even though she wasn’t much help at hunting this year).
- It would make me happy by bringing back fun childhood memories.
- After dyeing and hiding the eggs, we could make delicious egg salad for lunch the following week.
- It would be fun!
He agreed without too much convincing beyond that, and we actually did have a really nice time hiding and hunting eggs.
However, when I tried to convince him to let our 12-week-old daughter ride a motorcycle with her grandfather because I “rode with him when I was little,” he quickly dismissed the idea. In fact, “Um…no,” were his exact words.
This decision was easily made on several levels. Looking at the somewhat simplistic economic man and woman model, he was fully informed regarding all possible options and all possible outcomes, he was sensitive to the subtle distinctions among decision options, and he was fully rational in regard to his choice of options. There was really no need to take subjective utility or probability into account because, rationally, it was too dangerous!
However, when deciding whether to honor my request to hide and hunt Easter eggs, he had to go beyond an objective, rational decision and instead calculate the value of my feelings.