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Baba Shiv

Thanks to Vivek Iyer I spent about two hours today discovering about, watching (Youtube), and hearing (on radio) Baba Shiv, Professor of Marketing at Stanford. Recall my review of Gut Feelings by Gerd Gigerenzer? And citations of neuroeconomics books? Well, Baba Shiv is one more author in that line, a genius at work unpacking our brain and showing us for what we actually are.

The key point he makes is that emotions are critical to decision making. That's doesn't mean that rushing to judgement (Blink!) is a good thing.

He also shows how our expectations of value are determined by our emotions which are very impressionable and influenced by the price sticker! Stick a higher price on a bottle of wine and people not just report but EXPERIENCE more pleasure!

Further, pleasure is more in the anticipation of an event than in the event itself. Finally, our willpower is very weak and easily comes under pressure. Solution: just do one thing at a time: keep one resolution. Only one. Focus. Don't be harebrained.

Here are some useful links:

a) Article on willpower

b) Article on wine

c) And now a Youtube video lecture. Enjoy!

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3 thoughts on “Baba Shiv
  1. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Chaitanya sent in this comment: 

    reading the article on will power triggered a number of thoughts. Including them below in a random order. (sorry don't have time to package them). Hope the reader is able to get the drift:

    prefrontal cortex is the seat of "attention"/"awareness" and lots of higher functionality of the brain. Ajna chakra is located in this region. (middle of forehead). Mindfulness meditation, which trains attention systematically, improves the functioning of this region.

    The more attention skills are enhanced in a human being, the more one has ability to introduce conscious decision making between a stimulus and the resonse. The lesser the attention skills are developed, the more the chance of going with purely instinctual response.

    The more prefrontax cortex is developed, the more one has attention, awareness, and "self-control". That is, ability to make better/healthier conscious choices rather than unhealthy instinctual choices. (fruit salad vs cake). The article is saying that prefrontal cortex is overloaded in people who were given 7 digits, and hence they were unable to consciously choose a healthier alternative.

    Animals have very little attention / awareness skill. Perhaps the equivalent of pre-frontal cortex is non-existant or not well developed. That is why they go with pure instincts without much  intervention or decision making in the middle.

    Yogi's (and meditators in general) have this region well developed. In Hindu/buddhist religious thought, self-control is emphasized a lot. I think it goes both ways — The more one exercises self-control/attention the more developed the prefrontal cortex. The more developed this region, the more self-control one can exercise. (Instead of "self-control", the phrase "willpower" is used in the article).

    It would be interesting to do an extension to his experiment: Give systematic mindfulness training for 8 weeks, to the participants who were given 7 digits to remember, and let them retake the test. I wouldn't be surprised if more of them now choose fruit salad over cake. (As prefrontal cortex is developed through mindfulness training).

    Just off the top of the head .. these video's touch upon above topics:

    The cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Dr. phillipe golden

    Mindsight: New science of personal transformation. Dr.Dan seigel

    Transform your mind, change your brain. Neuroplasticity and personal transformation.

    Dr. Richard davidson.

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Thanks, Chaitanya. Very useful thoughts. Given my experience with meditation (limited but very powerful nevertheless), I second your views. 

    I'm going to send your experiment proposal to Baba Shiv. I'd be surprised if your hypothesis wasn't confirmed. That would set off a major meditation industry to reduce weight! Multi-billion (multi-trillion!) industry.

    Will see the videos as time permits. 

    Thanks for sharing.




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