Yesterday I posted the following scenario….
Imagine being offered two jobs. In terms of working hours, duties, location, and career prospects, Job A is absolutely identical to Job B. In fact, the only difference between the two positions is the disparity between your salary, and that of your future co-workers.
In Job A, your annual pay will be $50,000 and your colleagues will be earning $30,000. In Job B, you will be earning $60,000, and your fellow employees will be on $80,000.
This was based on an experiment originally run by psychologist Amos Tversky. Tversky was interested in decision making, and came up with two versions of the task. In one version he just asked people which job they would prefer, and discovered that the vast majority chose B because of the higher salary. However, when Tversky asked people which job would make them happier, the majority went with A because they realised that being surrounded by others earning more is not great for your self-esteem.
Yesterday morning I posed Tversky’s first question and, as predicted, almost everyone went with Job B. Then, in the afternoon I switched to the happiness question and there seemed to be a shift. More people were undecided or went with Job A.
And there is the issue. The choices we make are often heavily influenced by the questions we are asked, or ask ourselves. In this scenario it is easy to see how we could choose an option that makes us unhappy and yet feel we have done the right and logical thing.
What thinks you? Did you decide on the basis of your happiness or your wallet?