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TED 乐观的偏见 [复制链接]

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离线jenny
 

I'm going to talk to you about optimism -- or more precisely, the optimism bias. It's a cognitive illusion that we've been studying in my lab for the past few years, and 80 percent of us have it.
今天我演讲的主题是乐观——准确的说,乐观的偏见。过去的几年中,我们都在实验室中研究这种认知错觉,百分之八十的人都有这种乐观偏见。


It's our tendency to overestimate our likelihood of experiencing good events in our lives and underestimate our likelihood of experiencing bad events. So we underestimate our likelihood of suffering from cancer, being in a car accident. We overestimate our longevity, our career prospects. In short, we're more optimistic than realistic, but we are oblivious to the fact.
我们倾向于高估生活中发生好事的几率,低估坏事发生的几率。所以我们会低估我们患上癌症,遭遇车祸的几率。在寿命和事业前景上,我们则会过于乐观。简而言之,我们过于乐观,不够现实,而且还浑然不觉。


Take marriage for example. In the Western world, divorce rates are about 40 percent. That means that out of five married couples, two will end up splitting their assets. But when you ask newlyweds about their own likelihood of divorce, they estimate it at zero percent. And even divorce lawyers, who should really know better, hugely underestimate their own likelihood of divorce. So it turns out that optimists are not less likely to divorce, but they are more likely to remarry. In the words of Samuel Johnson, "Remarriage is the triumph of hope over experience."
以婚姻为例。在西方世界,离婚率大约是百分之四十。也就是说每五对夫妇中,有两对最终要闹到分割财产。但是如果你问新婚夫妇他们离婚的几率是多少的话,他们的估计是百分之零。而且就连应该对这个问题有清醒认识的离婚律师,也会严重低估他们自己离婚的几率。实际上乐观主义者离婚的几率并不低,但再婚的几率比较高。用Samuel Johnson(英国作家)的话来说,“再婚是希望战胜了经验。”


So if we're married, we're more likely to have kids. And we all think our kids will be especially talented. This, by the way, is my two-year-old nephew, Guy. And I just want to make it absolutely clear that he's a really bad example of the optimism bias, because he is in fact uniquely talented.
结婚之后很可能会生孩子。我们都认为自己的孩子会才华横溢。顺便一提,这是我两岁的侄子Guy。我必须强调用他来证明乐观偏见是一个非常糟糕的选择,因为事实上他确实拥有与众不同的才华。


And I'm not alone. Out of four British people, three said that they were optimistic about the future of their own families. That's 75 percent. But only 30 percent said that they thought families in general are doing better than a few generations ago.
我不是唯一一个这样想的人。四个英国人中有三个表示,他们对自己家庭的未来感到乐观。也就是百分之七十五。不过只有百分之三十的人表示,他们认为现在的家庭,比几十年前的家庭过的更好。


And this is a really important point, because we're optimistic about ourselves, we're optimistic about our kids, we're optimistic about our families, but we're not so optimistic about the guy sitting next to us, and we're somewhat pessimistic about the fate of our fellow citizens and the fate of our country. But private optimism about our own personal future remains persistent. And it doesn't mean that we think things will magically turn out okay, but rather that we have the unique ability to make it so.
这一点非常重要,因为我们对自己、自己的孩子和自己的家庭都很乐观,然而对于坐在我们旁边的人,我们就没有那么乐观了,而且我们对他人和国家的命运甚至有些悲观。然而这种针对我们个人未来的个人化乐观相当顽固。这并不意味着我们认为事情会变魔术一样莫名奇妙的顺利解决。我们相信自己拥有取得成功的独特能力。


Now I'm a scientist, I do experiments. So to show you what I mean, I'm going to do an experiment here with you. So I'm going to give you a list of abilities and characteristics, and I want you to think for each of these abilities where you stand relative to the rest of the population.
我是科学家,我做实验。所以为了说明我的观点,我马上就和你们一起做一个实验。我会列出一些能力和性格特点,我希望你们对照这个清单思考一下,自己的每一项能力处于人群中的什么位置。


The first one is getting along well with others. Who here believes they're at the bottom 25 percent? Okay, that's about 10 people out of 1,500. Who believes they're at the top 25 percent? That's most of us here. Okay, now do the same for your driving ability. How interesting are you? How attractive are you? How honest are you? And finally, how modest are you?
第一个是和他人和睦相处。认为自己处于最差的百分之二十五的请举手。好的,一千五百个人里面大概有十个人举手。认为自己处于最好的百分之二十五的呢?大多数人都举手了。好的,那再考量一下你的驾驶技术。你有趣吗?你迷人吗?你诚实吗?最后一个问题,你谦虚吗?


So most of us put ourselves above average on most of these abilities. Now this is statistically impossible. We can't all be better than everyone else. (Laughter) But if we believe we're better than the other guy, well that means that we're more likely to get that promotion, to remain married, because we're more social, more interesting.
所以多数人都认为自己的大部分能力高于平均水平。但从统计学的角度上来说,这是不可能的。不可能所有人都比其他人优秀。但是如果我们相信自己比别人更优秀,这也就意味着我们认为自己更应该得到升职,婚姻美满,因为我们性格更有趣,更善于与人交往。


And it's a global phenomenon. The optimism bias has been observed in many different countries -- in Western cultures, in non-Western cultures, in females and males, in kids, in the elderly. It's quite widespread.
这是一个国际性的现象。我们可以在来自很多不同国家的人身上找到乐观偏见——无论他来自西方文化还是非西方文化,是男是女,是孩子还是老人。这种现象相当普遍。


But the question is, is it good for us? So some people say no. Some people say the secret to happiness is low expectations. I think the logic goes something like this: If we don't expect greatness, if we don't expect to find love and be healthy and successful, well we're not going to be disappointed when these things don't happen. And if we're not disappointed when good things don't happen, and we're pleasantly surprised when they do, we will be happy.
然而问题是,乐观偏见对我们有益吗?有人认为没有好处。有人认为快乐的秘密就是不要期望太高。他们的逻辑大概是这样的:如果我们不期待成就什么伟业,不期待找到爱人,身体健康,取得成功,我们得不到这些东西的时候也不会特别失望。如果好事没有到来我们却不失望,那么好事发生的时候我们就得到了一个惊喜,应该很开心。


So it's a very good theory, but it turns out to be wrong for three reasons. Number one: Whatever happens, whether you succeed or you fail, people with high expectations always feel better. Because how we feel when we get dumped or win employee of the month depends on how we interpret that event.
这个理论听起来很有道理,但其实是错误的,原因有以下三点。第一:无论成功还是失败,期望高的人都更加快乐。因为无论是失恋还是当选每月员工,我们感觉如何取决于我们如何解读这一事件。


The psychologists Margaret Marshall and John Brown studied students with high and low expectations. And they found that when people with high expectations succeed, they attribute that success to their own traits. "I'm a genius, therefore I got an A, therefore I'll get an A again and again in the future." When they failed, it wasn't because they were dumb, but because the exam just happened to be unfair. Next time they will do better. People with low expectations do the opposite. So when they failed it was because they were dumb, and when they succeeded it was because the exam just happened to be really easy. Next time reality would catch up with them. So they felt worse.
心理学家Margaret Marshall和John Brown完成了一项以期望值各异的学生为对象的研究。他们发现,当拥有高期望值的人成功的时候,他们认为是自己的能力造就了这样的结果。“我是天才,所以我得到了A,因此我以后也会一直得A。“失败了也不代表他们愚蠢,不过是考试恰巧不公平而已。下一次他们一定会考好。期望值低的人的思维正好相反。失败是因为他们笨,成功则是因为考试恰巧特别简单。下次他们就没这么幸运了。所以他们的感觉更糟糕。


Number two: Regardless of the outcome, the pure act of anticipation makes us happy. The behavioral economist George Lowenstein asked students in his university to imagine getting a passionate kiss from a celebrity, any celebrity. Then he said, "How much are you willing to pay to get a kiss from a celebrity if the kiss was delivered immediately, in three hours, in 24 hours, in three days, in one year, in 10 years? He found that the students were willing to pay the most not to get a kiss immediately, but to get a kiss in three days. They were willing to pay extra in order to wait. Now they weren't willing to wait a year or 10 years; no one wants an aging celebrity. But three days seemed to be the optimum amount.
第二:无论结果如何,心怀期待的感觉就让我们感到快乐。行为经济学家George Lowenstein 请他的学生想象和一位名人激情接吻,任何名人都可以。然后他问,“如果立刻就得到和名人接吻的机会,你愿意付多少钱?三小时后呢?二十四小时后呢?三天后呢?一年后呢?十年后呢?”他发现,三天后接吻,而非立刻接吻价码最高。他们愿意为等待承担额外的费用。 他们不愿意等一年或者十年,没人希望亲吻一个人老珠黄的名人。不过三天似乎就是最合适的等待时间。


So why is that? Well if you get the kiss now, it's over and done with. But if you get the kiss in three days, well that's three days of jittery anticipation, the thrill of the wait. The students wanted that time to imagine where is it going to happen, how is it going to happen. Anticipation made them happy.
为什么呢?如果立刻就得到这个吻,美妙的时刻马上就结束了。如果你三天后才会得到这个吻,这三天你都会因为期待而惴惴不安,因为等待而激动不已。学生们希望能有时间想象接吻的方式和发生的场景。期待让他们感到快乐。


This is, by the way, why people prefer Friday to Sunday. It's a really curious fact, because Friday is a day of work and Sunday is a day of pleasure, so you'd assume that people will prefer Sunday, but they don't. It's not because they really, really like being in the office and they can't stand strolling in the park or having a lazy brunch. We know that, because when you ask people about their ultimate favorite day of the week, surprise, surprise, Saturday comes in at first, then Friday, then Sunday. People prefer Friday because Friday brings with it the anticipation of the weekend ahead, all the plans that you have. On Sunday, the only thing you can look forward to is the work week.
顺便一提,相较于周日人们更喜欢周五也是同样的道理。这个现象非常有趣,因为周五是工作日,周日是休息日,所以人们似乎应该更喜欢周日,然而事实却不是这样。这并不是因为大家都喜欢呆在办公室里,不能忍受在公园散步或者享受一顿慵懒的早午餐。这一点我们都明白,因为如果你问普通人最喜欢一周之中的哪一天,不出所料,星期六最受欢迎,其次是周五,再其次才是周日。人们喜欢周五是因为,周五会让你对眼前的周末以及你的周末计划充满期待。而周日你所能期待的只有新一周的工作。


So optimists are people who expect more kisses in their future, more strolls in the park. And that anticipation enhances their wellbeing. In fact, without the optimism bias, we would all be slightly depressed. People with mild depression, they don't have a bias when they look into the future. They're actually more realistic than healthy individuals. But individuals with severe depression, they have a pessimistic bias. So they tend to expect the future to be worse than it ends up being.
所以乐观主义者认为未来还有更多的亲吻的机会,更多在公园里散步的时间。这种期待会提高他们的生活质量。事实上,如果没有乐观偏见,我们都处于轻度抑郁的状态。轻度抑郁的人展望未来的时候没有偏见。事实上,他们比健康的人更加现实。但是严重抑郁的人有悲观偏见。所以他们眼中的未来比实际更糟糕。


So optimism changes subjective reality. The way we expect the world to be changes the way we see it. But it also changes objective reality. It acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy. And that is the third reason why lowering your expectations will not make you happy. Controlled experiments have shown that optimism is not only related to success, it leads to success. Optimism leads to success in academia and sports and politics. And maybe the most surprising benefit of optimism is health. If we expect the future to be bright, stress and anxiety are reduced.
因此乐观可能改变主观现实。我们对世界的期待改变我们对世界的看法。但它也会改变客观现实。是一种可能因为人们的主观想法而客观实现的预言。这也就是降低期待不会让你快乐的 第三个原因。对照试验表明乐观不仅与成功有关,更是成功的诱因。在学术界、体坛和政坛,乐观能都带来成功。也许乐观带来的最出人意料的好处就是健康。对美好未来的期待可以舒缓压力、缓解焦虑。


So all in all, optimism has lots of benefits. But the question that was really confusing to me was, how do we maintain optimism in the face of reality? As an neuroscientist, this was especially confusing, because according to all the theories out there, when your expectations are not met, you should alter them. But this is not what we find. We asked people to come into our lab in order to try and figure out what was going on.
因此,乐观益处多多。然而对我来说最令人困惑的问题是,我们如何在现实面前保持乐观的心态?作为一位神经学家这个问题尤其难以理解,因为根据现有的理论,如果期望没有成真的话,人会做出相应的调整。然而我们的发现却不是这样。为了了解这一切的原理,我们请普通人走进实验室参与实验。


We asked them to estimate their likelihood of experiencing different terrible events in their lives. So, for example, what is your likelihood of suffering from cancer? And then we told them the average likelihood of someone like them to suffer these misfortunes. So cancer, for example, is about 30 percent. And then we asked them again, "How likely are you to suffer from cancer?"
我们请他们估计自己 在生活中经历各种不幸的几率。 比如,你得癌症的几率是多大?然后我们告诉他,和他各方面条件相似的人 经历这种不幸事件的平均几率。 比如说,得癌症的几率是百分之三十。 然后我们请他们再次估计自己患病的几率, “你得癌症的几率是多少?”


What we wanted to know was whether people will take the information that we gave them to change their beliefs. And indeed they did -- but mostly when the information we gave them was better than what they expected. So for example, if someone said, "My likelihood of suffering from cancer is about 50 percent," and we said, "Hey, good news. The average likelihood is only 30 percent," the next time around they would say, "Well maybe my likelihood is about 35 percent." So they learned quickly and efficiently. But if someone started off saying, "My average likelihood of suffering from cancer is about 10 percent," and we said, "Hey, bad news. The average likelihood is about 30 percent," the next time around they would say, "Yep. Still think it's about 11 percent."
我们希望了解的是人们是否接受我们给他们的数据,并调整他们的想法。他们确实这样做了——但主要是在我们给他们的数据优于,他们自己的估计的情况下。因此,比如,如果一个人说,“我得癌症的几率大约是百分之五十,”然而我们告诉他,“嗨,好消息。平均几率只有百分之三十,”下一次再问他的时候他会说,“那么我患病的几率大约是百分之三十五。”所以他们快速高效的接受了信息。但是如果有人开始说,“我患癌症的几率大约是百分之十,”然而我们告诉他,“嗨,坏消息。平均患病几率是百分之三十,“第二次被问到的时候他会说,“好。我还是觉得在百分之十一左右。”


So it's not that they didn't learn at all -- they did -- but much, much less than when we gave them positive information about the future. And it's not that they didn't remember the numbers that we gave them; everyone remembers that the average likelihood of cancer is about 30 percent and the average likelihood of divorce is about 40 percent. But they didn't think that those numbers were related to them.
因此他们并不是完全不接受新信息——他们只是更愿意接受有关未来的积极乐观的信息。他们没有忘掉我们提供的数据;每个人都记得患癌症的平均几率是百分之三十左右,离婚率是百分之四十左右。但他们不认为这些数据与自己有关。


What this means is that warning signs such as these may only have limited impact. Yes, smoking kills, but mostly it kills the other guy.
这意味着此类预警信号的功效有限。是的,香烟是一大杀手,但只有其他人会因抽烟丧命。


What I wanted to know was what was going on inside the human brain that prevented us from taking these warning signs personally. But at the same time, when we hear that the housing market is hopeful, we think, "Oh, my house is definitely going to double in price." To try and figure that out, I asked the participants in the experiment to lie in a brain imaging scanner. It looks like this. And using a method called functional MRI, we were able to identify regions in the brain that were responding to positive information.
我想了解的是人脑中到底发生了什么,以至于我们无法把预警信号与自身联系起来。但是如果我们听说房地产市场很火爆,我们就会认为:“哦,我房子的价值肯定会翻番。”为了了解其中的原理,我请实验参与者躺在脑部成像扫描仪中。看起来就像这样。通过功能性核磁成像,我们可以而找到大脑中对积极信息作出反应的区域。


One of these regions is called the left inferior frontal gyrus. So if someone said, "My likelihood of suffering from cancer is 50 percent," and we said, "Hey, good news. Average likelihood is 30 percent," the left inferior frontal gyrus would respond fiercely. And it didn't matter if you're an extreme optimist, a mild optimist or slightly pessimistic, everyone's left inferior frontal gyrus was functioning perfectly well, whether you're Barack Obama or Woody Allen.
左额下回就是这种区域之一。因此如果有人说,“我患癌症的几率是百分之五十,”而我们告诉他,“嗨,好消息。平均几率是百分之三十会,”左额下回就会有明显的反应。无论你是极端乐观、一般乐观还是轻度悲观,无论是你是巴拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)还是伍迪·艾伦(Woody Allen),每个人的左额下回都运转正常。


On the other side of the brain, the right inferior frontal gyrus was responding to bad news. And here's the thing: it wasn't doing a very good job. The more optimistic you were, the less likely this region was to respond to unexpected negative information. And if your brain is failing at integrating bad news about the future, you will constantly leave your rose-tinted spectacles on.
在大脑的另外一侧,右额下回负责对坏消息做出反应。问题就是出在这里:右额下回没能尽忠职守。你越乐观这一区域对意外的消极信息的反应就越迟钝。如果你的大脑无法接受有关未来的坏消息,你对世界的看法一直都会比实际美好。


So we wanted to know, could we change this? Could we alter people's optimism bias by interfering with the brain activity in these regions? And there's a way for us to do that.
因此,我们希望进一步了解,我们可以改变这种现象吗?我们是否可以通过干涉这些区域的脑部活动来改变人们的乐观偏见呢?我们确实有办法做到。


This is my collaborator Ryota Kanai. And what he's doing is he's passing a small magnetic pulse through the skull of the participant in our study into their inferior frontal gyrus. And by doing that, he's interfering with the activity of this brain region for about half an hour. After that everything goes back to normal, I assure you.
这是我的合作伙伴Ryota Kanai。他正在将微小的磁脉冲通过研究参与者的头骨,传达到他们的额下回。这样做他可以影响该区域的脑活动大约半个小时。此后一切恢复正常,我保证。


So let's see what happens. First of all, I'm going to show you the average amount of bias that we see. So if I was to test all of you now, this is the amount that you would learn more from good news relative to bad news. Now we interfere with the region that we found to integrate negative information in this task, and the optimism bias grew even larger. We made people more biased in the way that they process information. Then we interfered with the brain region that we found to integrate good news in this task, and the optimism bias disappeared. We were quite amazed by these results because we were able to eliminate a deep-rooted bias in humans.
现在我们来看看接下来发生了什么。首先,这是一般的偏见水平。如果我现场测试你们,你们接受的好消息就比坏消息多这么多。现在我们干扰接受消极信息的区域,乐观偏见就变得更加严重。我们加重了人们处理信息时的偏见。然后我们干扰接受好消息的区域,随后乐观偏见就消失了。这样的结果让我们十分震惊,因为我们可以去除一种根深蒂固的人类偏见。


And at this point we stopped and we asked ourselves, would we want to shatter the optimism illusion into tiny little bits? If we could do that, would we want to take people's optimism bias away? Well I've already told you about all of the benefits of the optimism bias, which probably makes you want to hold onto it for dear life. But there are, of course, pitfalls, and it would be really foolish of us to ignore them.
至此我们停下了脚步并扪心自问,将乐观偏见彻底摧毁是一件好事吗?如果可以实现,我们要夺走人们的乐观偏见吗?我已经向你们介绍了乐观偏见的种种好处,你们可能觉得它不可或缺。当然,乐观偏见也有它的缺陷,而且忽略这些缺陷是十分不明智的。


Take for example this email I recieved from a firefighter here in California. He says, "Fatality investigations for firefighters often include 'We didn't think the fire was going to do that,' even when all of the available information was there to make safe decisions." This captain is going to use our findings on the optimism bias to try to explain to the firefighters why they think the way they do, to make them acutely aware of this very optimistic bias in humans.
比如,一位来自加州的消防员给我发来这样一封电子邮件。 他说,”针对消防员的死伤调查 常有这样的记述‘我们没有想到火灾中会出现这种情况,’ 然而事实上根据当时已有的信息 已经可以做出安全的决定了。“ 这位队长希望用我们有关乐观偏见的研究结果 向消防员们解释 他们思考模式背后的原理, 让他们意识到人类的这种乐观偏见。


So unrealistic optimism can lead to risky behavior, to financial collapse, to faulty planning. The British government, for example, has acknowledged that the optimism bias can make individuals more likely to underestimate the costs and durations of projects. So they have adjusted the 2012 Olympic budget for the optimism bias.
因此不现实的乐观可能导致高风险行为、经济崩溃、计划缺陷。例如,英国政府承认乐观偏见会让人低估各种项目所需耗费的金钱和时间。他们考虑乐观偏见以后调整了2012年奥运会的预算。


My friend who's getting married in a few weeks has done the same for his wedding budget. And by the way, when I asked him about his own likelihood of divorce, he said he was quite sure it was zero percent.
我的一位朋友几周以后就要结婚了,他也因为同样的原因调整了婚礼的预算。顺便一提,当我问他,他离婚的几率大概是多少时,他说他坚定的相信是百分之零。


So what we would really like to do, is we would like to protect ourselves from the dangers of optimism, but at the same time remain hopeful, benefiting from the many fruits of optimism. And I believe there's a way for us to do that. The key here really is knowledge. We're not born with an innate understanding of our biases. These have to be identified by scientific investigation. But the good news is that becoming aware of the optimism bias does not shatter the illusion. It's like visual illusions, in which understanding them does not make them go away. And this is good because it means we should be able to strike a balance, to come up with plans and rules to protect ourselves from unrealistic optimism, but at the same time remain hopeful.
所以我们所真正需要的是在不成为乐观偏见的受害者的同时,保持内心充满希望的状态,享受乐观带来的种种益处。我相信我们可以做到这一点。知识是这个问题的关键。我们不是生来就对人类的种种偏见有深入的认识,科学研究可以帮助我们识别这些偏见。不过好消息是,认识乐观偏见并不会破坏这种错觉。就像视觉错觉一样,明白原理并不会消除错觉。值得欣慰的是,我们可以找到平衡制定计划和规则,不让自己成为不切实际的乐观的受害者,但同时保持内心充满希望的状态。


I think this cartoon portrays it nicely. Because if you're one of these pessimistic penguins up there who just does not believe they can fly, you certainly never will. Because to make any kind of progress, we need to be able to imagine a different reality, and then we need to believe that that reality is possible. But if you are an extreme optimistic penguin who just jumps down blindly hoping for the best, you might find yourself in a bit of a mess when you hit the ground. But if you're an optimistic penguin who believes they can fly, but then adjusts a parachute to your back just in case things don't work out exactly as you had planned, you will soar like an eagle, even if you're just a penguin.
我认为这幅卡通画很好的展示了这种观点。如果你是上面那些悲观的企鹅,根本不相信自己可以飞翔,那你肯定永远也飞不起来。我们必须有能力想象与现实不同的未来,相信我们的构想能够实现,才能真正取得进展。但是,如果你是一只极为乐观的企鹅,听天由命地直接跳下悬崖,落地的时候场面恐怕不大好看。然而如果你是一只相信自己能飞的乐观企鹅,又背上了一个降落伞以防事情的发展没有你想象的那么顺利,你就会如雄鹰一般遨游天际,尽管你不过是只企鹅。


Thank you.
谢谢。
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