Are we in control of our decisions? ted talk

Answer the following questions while watching this video (Links to an external site.) 

1. In the opening line of the speech, Ariel makes a joke saying, “I’ll tell you a little bit about irrational behavior. Not yours, of course – other people’s.” Describe the cognitive bias he is pointing out from the very beginning of his talk. 

2. Ariely’s first example is the image of the two tables. What irrational thinking is demonstrated by this image?

3. What happens after he takes away the red lines?

4. Ariely says, “Our intuition is really fooling us in a repeatable, predictable, consistent way, and there is almost nothing we can do about it, aside from taking a ruler and starting to measure it.” What implications does that statement have for thinking beyond measuring a table length? What does it say about what we’ll have to do to avoid being flawed or biased thinking?

5. What do people have a harder time recognizing “cognitive illusions” than recognizing “visual illusions”?

6. What does the example of the organ donors demonstrate about how we make decisions?

7. Ariely says, “But when it comes to us, we have such a feeling that we’re in the driver’s seat, such a feeling that we’re in control and we are making the decisions, that it’s very hard to even accept the idea that we actually have an illusion of making a decision, rather than an actual decision” Paraphrase and explain this statement in your own words.

8. Ariely goes on to say that some people might explain away the organ donor phenomena by saying that it is something that people don’t care about. But, he says “it’s so complex that we don’t know what to do. And because we have no idea what to do, we just pick whatever it was that was chosen for us.” What is he saying about how we make the most difficult and complex decisions in our lives?

9. What does the example of the physicians and the hip replacement surgery demonstrate about how we make decisions?

10. What do the examples of the weekend trip option, the Economist advertisement, and the Tom and Jerry images demonstrate about how people make decisions?

11. How does Ariely believe that we have done a better job dealing with our physical world than with our mental world?

12. What does he say that we need to do to “design a better mental world”?

13. Go back to the decisions and criteria that you listed in the quick write. What are some ways that you might be biased when you make those decisions? How might some of Ariely’s examples apply to you?


Approximately 250 words