the undercover economist
kitabının yazarı olan, 1973 doğumlu, financial times
'da dear economist
köşesinde okuyucularının kişisel sorunlarına/sorularına ekonomik teoriler ışığında cevap veren eğlenceli şahıs. şu ana kadar hakkında entry girilmemiş olması da beni sozlukte ekonomi ile ilgilenen pek kimse olmadığını düşündürttü. küşesinden bir örnek vererek entry mi sonladırmak istiyorum.
my mother-in-law can be extremely aggravating, and on a recent visit she managed to wind me up so badly that i made an unprintable remark to her. the fact that she fully deserved my outburst does not seem to carry much weight with her, nor my beloved wife. so things are now a little tense. i suppose i should apologise, but i don’t want to encourage her nagging, nor acknowledge that she was right (she wasn’t). can economics provide a solution?
james, north london
economics is not the obvious starting point, since an apology appears to be what an economist would call ”cheap talk” - it costs nothing and should therefore be meaningless. but help is at hand from economist benjamin ho of the stanford graduate school of business. ho has been conducting doctoral research on the economics of apologies.
he begins with the observation that apologies make us more likable but also make us seem incompetent - an intuitive response backed up by psychological research. for example, the psychologists fiona lee and lara tiedens showed subjects some edited footage of bill clinton talking about the lewinsky affair.
after viewing the clips in which clinton seemed apologetic, the subjects said they liked him more but respected him less. this suggests that an apology is not cheap talk at all: it represents a choice to appear loveable but bumbling. the alternative is to admit nothing and look like a competent hard-man.
your refusal to apologise sends a clear signal that you would be pleased if your mother-in-law respected you but kept her distance. that sounds accurate, but you wonder why your wife is upset?