Friday, 20 June 2014

Neutral, blind, amoral

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

Behavioural change management is neutral, blind, amoral. The user of behavioural sciences, however, may be purpose-driven, have a clear vision and choose a moral path. He may also be stupid.

To reward high-risk, invisible, short-term, virtual market investments (those ‘vehicles’ brought to us by the City of London or Wall Street; vehicles which have no consistency and would belong better in Monte Carlo or Las Vegas) and to do it with massive amounts of money is simply stupid. Obviously not for the recipient of the reward, but for the community at large that suffers the consequences.

The really good thing that has happened in the last years to real behavioural sciences is their ‘discovery’
by economists. Historically, economics was based on the rationality of the individual. You know, given a choice, people will maximize its utility. This was even written on the frontispiece of economics as a discipline. Well, at least until behavioural economics came along and added the graffiti:
‘sometimes’. This ‘sometimes’ or ‘maybe’ was enough to start challenging all basic assumptions. Behavioural economics today look at things from the perspective of the behaviours of the individuals, who frequently exhibit ‘non-utilitarian’ behaviours, irrational ones that do not fit the theory. Behavioural economics do not take the simplistic carrot-and-stick approach. These people know that there is a complexity to, even competition between, carrots. They also know that sticks sometimes don’t

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