Emotions -- Part 4 - The Power of Giving Up Control
A commander provides what is needed now.
This is like climbing high and being willing to kick away your ladder.
Sun Tzu’s The Art of War 11:5:12-13
Are humans primarily rational or are they primarily emotional? Again, by emotional, we mean using our gut reactions to complex situations, not gratifying childish desires. Or do our emotions reflect a higher, valuable form of rationality? In the first article in this series on emotions, we examined how we are mentally hard-wired to some degree for the strategy of “tit-for-tat,” returning the same type of treatment others give us. This means that we are also hardwired to expect equitable treatment. This tends to be more true in more individualistic cultures than more clan-based ones. This is tied to our feeling about arbitrary power and control. These ideas are demonstrated by a common experiment used in psychology, economics, and game theory called the Ultimatum Game.
I must emphasize the word “arbitrary” here because, in everyday life, much of the distribution of decision-making is based upon past judgments about the competence of others. In the game discussed here, the control is arbitrary. No one earns the control they are given. In looking at the results of these experiments, we should not confuse game conditions with real life. While game theory gives us an interesting basis for understanding our emotions, it is always misleading because our lives are not limited to a certain game space, certain moves, or certain players. Most of the important interactions in our lives are recurring encounters, not limited games.
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