Explain explanations for choosing by choice

A popular explanation of why it’s worse to seem stupid than lazy is that lazy seems like more of a choice, so not permanent. Similarly it seems more admired and desired to have innate artistic talent than to try hard despite being less naturally good. Being unable to stand by and let a tragedy occur (‘I had no choice!’) is more virtuous than making a calm, reasoned decision to avoid a tragedy.

On the other hand, people usually claim to prefer being liked for their personality over their looks. When asked they also relate it to their choice in the matter; it means more to be liked for something you ‘had a say in’. People are also proud of achievements they work hard on and decisions they make, and less proud of winning the lottery and forced moves.
The influence of apparent choice on our emotions is opposite in these cases, yet we often use it in the explanation for both. Is percieved level of choice really relevant to anything? If so, why does it explain effects in opposite directions? If not, why do we think of it so soon when questioned on these things?

4 responses to “Explain explanations for choosing by choice

  1. Choice is irrelevant in the example of preventing a tragedy: "I had no choice" just means "I am teh moral," and preventing an immediate tragedy is more vivid in the imagination than avoiding a distant one. Your other examples fit the following pattern: letting I denote innate qualities, E denote effort and choice, and L denote luck, one prefers I>E>L when thinking about others, but E>I>L when talking about one's self. This inconsistency perhaps constitutes modesty and a signal that one is willing to expend effort to help allies.

  2. BTW yesterday I asked someone whether the subject of subject matter mattered, and today it so happens that mailing my mail key is key.

  3. You're probably right morality is in a different category – best to show others that we would always do the moral thing.You would prefer to be stupid than lazy? Seems to me your ordering for own preferences doesn't hold for the first couple of things. You're right that what we class as luck we treat somewhat differently, though why this is isn't clear – inherent ability is luck, and winning the lottery probably affects your life as permanently. Extra-genetic luck isn't worth as much to potential mates I suppose.

  4. People indeed like to feel good about both their actual positive choices and their potential to reverse negative choices.Its an ego reinforcing cognitive bias. Mild delusions leading to happiness are generally thought to be adaptive.


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