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Eric_Blincow comments on The Affect Heuristic - Less Wrong

37 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 November 2007 07:58AM

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Comment author: Eric_Blincow 27 November 2007 01:29:03PM 7 points [-]

The three parts of that paper that I found most interesting were:

1. Concentrated affect beats diffuse affect. Everybody knows what "obnoxious" means but "intelligent" could mean alot of different things, therefore obnoxious wins, carries a higher weight in the averaging of the descriptions. "More precise affective impressions reflect more precise meanings and carry more weight in impression formation, judgment, and decision making."

2. The fact that more people chose to accept a gamble when a small loss was involved, because the small size of the loss (5 cents) qualified the size of the gain (9 dollars). "In commenting on the fact that the carriers of value are changes in wealth or welfare, rather than final states, Kahneman and Tversky observe that “Our perceptual apparatus is attuned to the evaluation of changes or differences rather than to the evaluation of absolute magnitudes” (p. 277)."

3. The conclusion of the Damasio 1990 paper which showed that disruption in brain centers linked to affective states disrupted personality to the point of making people sociopathic. From that paper: "An investigation of this theory in patients with frontal damage reveals that their autonomic responses to socially meaningful stimuli are indeed abnormal, suggesting that such stimuli fail to activate somatic states at the most basic level."

I don't understand the meaning of "somatic" in this context, can anyone help me out?

My understanding of the Damasio paper's implication is that affect is central to being able to function socially.

Thats a whole lot of insights crammed into 40 pages!