Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Yes - Why Is This So Hard?

Dilbert calls attention to something that has long puzzled me:

Dilbert.com

We've all experienced this: you stand around with a small group of good friends, intelligent coworkers, etc., and you agonize over a trivial decision - where to go grab dinner, which bar to go to, what movie to go see, or something similar.

I'm trying to think about the economics of these transactions - something about preferences and poor signaling, I'd guess, though I'd be happy for a comprehensive explanation in the comments. My preliminary thoughts: people's relationships with each other are far more important than whatever trivial decision people are trying to make, so they refrain from signaling their own preferences as to avoid upsetting their friends, coworkers, etc., but then no preferences are expressed, so no one knows who has the strongest preference.

My best solution to this is to express your preference, however slight, at the beginning of the discussion - at least there's a proposal on the table, then. Sure, your preference will anchor others' responses, but you will likely push other people to express their true preferences, and then the group can accept their preferences if their preferences are stronger than yours.

Anyone else have a better explanation and/or solution?

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