Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Declining Marginal Utility, Habituation, and ...


Wonderful things are especially wonderful the first time they happen, but their wonderfulness wanes with repetition. Just compare the first and last time your child said "Mama" or your partner said "I love you" and you'll know exactly what I mean. When we have an experience—hearing a particular sonata, making love with a particular person, watching the sun set from a particular window of a particular room—on successive occasions, we quickly begin to adapt to it, and the experience yields less pleasure each time. Psychologists call this habituation, economists call it declining marginal utility, and the rest of us call it marriage.

From Chapter 7 (excerpts) of Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness.

This page lists ten 'intriguing' quotes from the book. (For example, here's No. 9: "To learn from experience, we must remember it, and for a variety of reasons, memory is a faithless friend.")

2 Comments:

  1. Vivek Kumar said...

    If the excerpts are something to go by, then I should be buying this book next time I am at a bookstore.

    Thanks for pointing this book out!

  2. Wanderer said...

    what he says is right, of course. but since we can avoid gettined used to our experiences, i wonder what the solution could be...

    anyway, i watched a very interesting talk by Dan Gilbert. Since there's quite a lot of related stuff on this theme at your blog, you might want to take a look at this: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/97