Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ the affect heuristic

May 4, 2023 • 10:30 am

Yesterday’s Jesus and Mo strip, called “affect,” came with an Internet link:

That’s a “yes” from me. The Affect Heuristic:

Here’s the first para of that Wikipedia page:

The affect heuristic is a heuristic, a mental shortcut that allows people to make decisions and solve problems quickly and efficiently, in which current emotion—fear, pleasure, surprise, etc.—influences decisions. In other words, it is a type of heuristic in which emotional response, or “affect” in psychological terms, plays a lead role.[1] It is a subconscious process that shortens the decision-making process and allows people to function without having to complete an extensive search for information. It is shorter in duration than a mood, occurring rapidly and involuntarily in response to a stimulus. Reading the words “lung cancer” usually generates an affect of dread, while reading the words “mother’s love” usually generates a feeling of affection and comfort. The affect heuristic is typically used while judging the risks and benefits of something, depending on the positive or negative feelings that people associate with a stimulus. It is the equivalent of “going with your gut”. If their feelings towards an activity are positive, then people are more likely to judge the risks as low and the benefits high. On the other hand, if their feelings towards an activity are negative, they are more likely to perceive the risks as high and benefits low

Go here if you want to read a bunch of quote favoring “gut thinking.”

And le strip, which, as usual, shows the boys denigrating something of which they themselves are guilty.

5 thoughts on “Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ the affect heuristic

  1. Lukianoff & Haidt list “Always trust your emotions” as one of the three false beliefs imperiling this generation of college students.

    Bob Zajonc’s studies in the 1980’s provided evidence that “preferenda” precede “discriminenda” (i.e., neural signals on which we make choices travel faster than neural signals related to our explanations and/or rationalizations).

    Mike Gazaniga’s experiments with “split-brain” patients provide many intriguing examples.

    Our survey study at Berea College in 2018 provided evidence that words perceived as contributing to a hostile environment will not be afforded academic freedom protection. [Porter, D.B. (2022). How Hostile Environment Perceptions Imperil Academic Freedom: The Effects of Identity & Beliefs on Perceptions & Judgments. Researchers.One,]

    Of course, as George Orwell pointed out, words that do not offend others need no protection.

    Although support for academic freedom among college communities may be a mile wide (nearly everyone claims to support it), it is often only an inch deep (only applied to language that is entirely inoffensive.)

  2. If Jesus and Mo question Barmaid’s enthusiasm, she should tell them: ” You had me at ‘Affect'”.

  3. “…if their feelings towards an activity are negative, they are more likely to perceive the risks as high and benefits low.”
    That nicely encapsulates the anti-vacc position.

    1. It also nicely encapsulates the pro-vacc position.

      Both pro and anti positions use factual arguments in defence of their positions – but arguably the ‘other’ side’s position is deprecated because the affective heuristic has set the predisposition beyond rational debate from the very start.

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