Yapping Yak

THINKING ALOUD

A Post of Bitterness

Well, scratch that. I just like how stereotypical people actually are. Like each and everyone of us.

Why Midwesterners would get disappointed and remain miserable when moved to CA

It’s the canonical example of reference-dependent happiness. Someone from the Midwest imagines how much happier he would be in California but when he finally has the chance to move there he finds that he is just as miserable as he was before.

But can it be explained by a simple selection effect? Suppose that everyone who lives in the Midwest gets a noisy but unbiased signal of how happy they would be in California. Some overestimate how happy they would be and some underestimate it. Then they get random opportunities to move. Who is going to take that opportunity? Those who overestimate how happy they will be.  And so when they arrive they are disappointed.

It also explains why people who are forced to leave California, say for job-related reasons, are pleasantly surprised at how happy they can be in the Midwest. Since they hadn’t moved voluntarily already, its likely that they underestimated how happy they would be.

I can’t wait to verify this through personal knowledge.

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2 responses to “A Post of Bitterness

  1. michi February 21, 2012 at 9:24 am

    That’s a pretty insightful snippet! I’ve moved several dozen times in the past 10 years, but never got “super excited” beforehand about it. Also, I was never massively disappointed.

    So, perhaps the solution is to avoid forming these wild expectations? (In your terms, that might be called “apathy” hehe.)

    • YK February 21, 2012 at 10:21 am

      wow a real comment! very excited.

      yah apathy is definitely a “safer” way to reduce heart-breaking moments in lives, but it aint too much fun after a bit.

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