Monday, April 27, 2009

Choosing What Makes Us Happy (7): Impulsivity

To gain optimal happiness decision-makers not only need to make accurate predictions about what will bring in maximal happiness, but also act on their predictions. This means that some people even after they have identified what will bring in optimal happiness, may not choose it.

One reason for the inability to follow accurate predictions is impulsivity.


Impulsivity leads to the choice of an immediate gratifying option at the cost of long-term happiness.

Although the inability to predict long-term experience may be the cause of impulsivity in some cases, in most cases impulsivity is due to a failure to follow predictions. For example, drug abusers may accurately predict that the short-term pleasure from drug abuse may undermine their long-term or even overall (short-term + long-term) happiness. However, their continuing to do so (before dependence also becomes a factor) could be attributed to impulsivity.

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