Saturday, December 08, 2012

What You See Is Not All There Is

Daniel Kahneman- the psychologist who won an Nobel Prize for Economics- has uses a concept of "What You See Is All There Is"- which states that humans tend to form impressions based purely on the information available to us, even when that information is very minimal. We do not stop to consider what important information may be missing.

I think the reaction to the nurse who killed herself after receiving a prank phone call from an Australian radio station is an example of this. All the public "know" about her are that she received the call and she killed herself therefore the assumption is that the phone call led to her death.

This may be right but given that it seems such an odd reaction to the prank call and that people have all sorts of relationships and ambitions that are far more likely to affect their well being that a two minute radio call, it seems unwise to assume that her apparent suicide was related to the prank without knowing more about her life.


Macheath said...

I agree - but the assumption that it's an 'odd reaction' is surely also a subjective one based on certain cultural norms.

You're right to keep an open mind, though; one of the most disturbing aspects of the whole sad business is the way this suicide is being headlined and deplored by the same media that gleefully recounted details of the hoax to as wide an audience as possible.

A K Haart said...

I agree with you - it is an odd reaction for the vast majority of people.

There is likely to be some important background that we don't know.

Anonymous said...

I concur that this would be odd, but surely it wouldn't be the prank call so much as the anticipated disciplinary action that would have worried her

banned said...

@anon "the anticipated disciplinary action that would have worried her" good point.

JuliaM said...

Would she even have faced any? She didn't disclose anything, merely put the call through to another nurse who did.

And...who knows, at this point, what the cause of death was?

James Higham said...

Yup - they were still prats though.

Anonymous said...

I think her reaction (if it was suicide) was not a logical reaction.
Then again I think if you humilate enough people in front of millions you probably get someone committing suicide.
If you can live with on your conscience I feel sorry for you.
If you can't then perhaps best to have a different style of broadcasting. Eh Jeremy Kyle?

Ross said...

James- absolutely, they were idiots, and even though I doubt it was a major cause of the suicide it is fairly repellent to obtain someone's medical details by pretending to be a concerned relative.

Macheath said...

Julia has a point - especially as it turns out the nurse was a Catholic.

There can be no doubt that she was under immense emotional stress as a result of the prank call and the resulting media frenzy; this surely cannot be dismissed as unconnected with her death, whatever the cause.