• Final Mile

Scientists dispel ‘Miserable Monday’ myth…but have they, really?

BBC recently reported this story on how Prof Arthur Stone of Stony Brook University and his team conducted a massive study and concluded that the miserable Monday is just a myth, there are other days that are equally worse. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are better, but other days are as bad as Monday. you can read it here.

However, as a footnote they mention that its the contrast with the Sunday that makes Monday seem worse. Its a simple principle of contrast. Scientists expect us to be objective about these things. And this expectation is based on the rational hypothesis. We should ignore irrelevant information in this case it means we should simply forget Sundays. Here in lies the fallacy. Learning from Behavioral Sciences and Cognitive Neuroscience shows how “The brain has this spectacular inability to ignore irrelevant information “(Jonah Lehrer, How we decide). The price of the jacket has an influence of how we perceive the price of cufflinks. Accessories seem cheap when you buy a car, which is why we end up buying many accessories unnecessarily. I was once in a focus group where participants significantly overestimated the prices of gadgets, simply because the discussion was set in a fancy hotel.

The next thing has an effect on us. Everything is relative. We always compare and contrast pretty much everything. Money, Wealth, Education, Beauty, Knowledge, Status. We need a reference point for everything and that’s how we judge things. Even as we are considering making a choice, we tend to stick to the mid-range of the choice set and ignore the more extreme options. Just adding items to a choice set, therefore, can influence our preferences – which are dynamic and highly context based. Expecting us to ignore reference points and view everything objectively is highly unrealistic if not utopian. At an objective level may be all days are equal, but the fact that Sunday influences Monday is a reality we cannot ignore or escape. So as long as there is a Sunday, Monday will be miserable. The real myth is that human beings can be objective.

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