Here is the transcript and summary of Petter Johansson’s talk titled “Do You Really Know Why You Do What You Do?” at TED conference.
In this TED talk, experimental psychologist Petter Johansson discusses the topic of “choice blindness” and its implications for our ability to know why we do what we do. Johansson argues that people often have a hard time proving they are correct about themselves due to the subjectivity of their own thoughts and beliefs. Through several experiments, Johansson demonstrates that when our choices are manipulated without our knowledge, we tend to explain them in a way that is not based on the actual outcome.
Listen to the audio version here:
So why do you think the rich should pay more in taxes? Why did you buy the latest iPhone? Why did you pick your current partner? And why did so many people vote for Donald Trump? What were the reasons, why did they do it?
So we ask this kind of question all the time, and we expect to get an answer. And when being asked, we expect ourselves to know the answer, to simply tell why we did as we did.
BUT DO WE REALLY KNOW WHY? So when you say that you prefer George Clooney to Tom Hanks, due to his concern for the environment, is that really true? So you can be perfectly sincere and genuinely believe that this is the reason that drives your choice, but to me, it may still feel like something is missing.
As it stands, due to the nature of subjectivity, it is actually very hard to ever prove that people are wrong about themselves.