Our choice: Asi Kazantseva’s book “The Brain is Material”


My knowledge of football, as often happens with girls from St. Petersburg intelligent families, comes down to a quote from Brodsky about penalty kicks and corners. But I spent the summer of 2018 in Moscow, and from the metro to the university I walked across Nikolskaya Street, the main fan zone of the World Cup. And you know, in a couple of weeks it has even covered me. It really was cool.

Summer, carnival, everyone is happy. When one day, overtaking on a narrow sidewalk a pretty boy who buried himself in the telephone with the broadcast, I asked him: "Who is winning?" (although I didn’t know who was playing with whom *), I felt real unity with humanity. And it was a pleasant feeling.

It is not surprising that for real fans - those who directly watch football on television - this is an even more vivid experience. And it is interestingly reflected in their assessments of reality.

In 1982, during the World Cup, the famous psychologist Norbert Schwartz and his colleagues phoned the Germans (of course, the West) and asked them some questions about the match of Germany - Chile, which was supposed to start in half an hour. And then they asked if it was possible at the same time to involve them in another poll of the university, since they were so successfully at home. And asked to rate on a ten-point scale how happy they feel in life in general. And one more thing: how globally speaking are they satisfied with their life. Communication with the second group of subjects took place in the same way, but half an hour after the match.

Germany won 4: 1.

Predictably it turned out that the happiness of all life depends on whether to ask people about him before a football match or after. In the first case, when the result of the game was still unknown, people averaged 14.3 points for two questions. Those respondents whose team just won scored an average of 17.


The weather outside the window has the same effect on the happiness of all life. If you call the average person on a sunny day and ask him how happy he is at all, he will answer that 7.43 points out of 10. If you ask the same thing on a rainy day, then on average people gain only 5 points.

Interestingly, this effect disappears if you first talk about the weather with the study participant: in this case he pays attention to the rain, so he has a good reason to explain his lowered mood, and he makes a correction for it.

Norbert Schwartz illustrated with these experiments his hypothesis called "affect-as-information." It makes a lot of sense: when you think about something complicated (whether to go to graduate school? Have a child?) And have to make a decision in the absence of information, it makes sense to consider, in addition to formal criteria, those feelings that you experience, thinking about the problem. Perhaps negative emotions signal that there are some pitfalls in which you are not yet aware, but which nevertheless interfere with the implementation of your plan. This may very well be useful.

But an artificially created experimental situation with a comparison of two groups of subjects clearly emphasizes that in general emotions can be caused by something completely extraneous - and at the same time they still affect your assessment of the situation. At least until you realized with the help of an experimenter that your life is good and your mood is bad due to rain.

Experimental psychology has accumulated mountains of research, demonstrating in various ways that a momentary state can seriously affect our perception of reality and our decisions ...



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