Wie die Psychologie uns daran hindert, die Konsequenzen zu ziehen

Nun kann man ja bei den von bto behandelten Themen durchaus schlechte Laune bekommen. In der Tat ist meine Erfahrung, dass Leser und Zuhörer meiner Argumentation folgen, deprimiert reagieren und das Thema dann zur Seite schieben. Keine Lust sich weiter damit zu beschäftigen und heimliche Hoffnung, es würde schon nicht so weit kommen. Bisher ist es ja auch gut gegangen.

Offensichtlich handelt es sich um ein typisch menschliches Verhalten, wie die FT so schön zusammenfasst: „even if we had clearly seen the crisis coming, would it have made a difference?”

  • “Consider New Orleans in 2004. With a terrible hurricane bearing down on the city, officials realised that the situation was grim. (…) Some readers will recall, though, that the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina took place in 2005. The storm of 2004 was Hurricane Ivan, which, after lashing the Caribbean, weakened and turned aside from New Orleans. The city had been given almost a full year’s warning of the gaps in its defences. The near miss led to much discussion but little action. (…) It was an awful failure but surely not a failure of forecasting.” bto: Die Stadt hat die Zeit nicht genutzt mit verheerenden Folgen, obwohl diese Folgen absehbar waren. Dies erklärt wohl auch die deutsche Politik.
  • “Robert Meyer and Howard Kunreuther in The Ostrich Paradox argue that it is common for institutions and ordinary citizens to make poor decisions in the face of foreseeable natural disasters, sometimes with tragic results. There are many reasons for this, including corruption, perverse incentives or political expediency.” bto: was sicherlich auch auf die deutsche Politik, zum Beispiel mit Blick auf Migranten und Euro, zutrifft (ohne Korruption).
  • “But the authors focus on psychological explanations. They identify cognitive rules of thumb that normally work well but serve us poorly in preparing for extreme events. One such mental shortcut is what the authors term the amnesia bias, a tendency to focus on recent experience. We remember more distant catastrophes but we do not feel them viscerally. (…) We cut the same cognitive corners in finance. There are many historical examples of manias and panics but, while most of us know something about the great crash of 1929, or the tulip mania of 1637, those events have no emotional heft. Even the dotcom bubble of 1999-2001, which should at least have reminded everyone that financial markets do not always give sensible price signals, failed to make much impact on how regulators and market participants behaved. Six years was long enough for the lesson to lose its sting.” bto: Das ist doch faszinierend. Wir haben es erlebt, und weil wir es überlebt haben, nehmen wir es nicht mehr als so tragisch wahr.
  • “Another rule of thumb is optimism bias. We are often too optimistic, at least about our personal situation, even in the midst of a more generalised pessimism. In 1980, the psychologist Neil Weinstein published a study showing that people did not dwell on risks such as cancer or divorce. Yes, these things happen, Professor Weinstein’s subjects told him: they just won’t happen to me.” bto: was natürlich mit Blick auf die Probleme, die vor uns liegen, eine durchaus heroische Annahme ist.
  • Und dann noch der single action bias: “(…) confronted with a worrying situation, taking one or two positive steps often feels enough. If you have already bought extra groceries and refuelled the family car, surely putting up cumbersome storm shutters is unnecessary”? bto: Das ist so wie das Kilo Gold, das wohl genügt, um die Krise zu überstehen. Es genügt halt nicht.
  • “(…) because things often do work well, we forget. The old hands retire; bad memories lose their jolt; we grow cynical about false alarms. Yesterday’s prudence is today’s health-and-safety-gone-mad. Small wonder that, 10 years on, senior Federal Reserve official Stanley Fischer is having to warn against extremely dangerous and extremely short-sighted efforts to dismantle financial regulations. All of us, from time to time, prefer to stick our heads in the sand.” bto: Und das machen gerade sehr viele Leute. Witzigerweise verstärken sie damit das Problem noch. Die Politiker können deshalb durch weiteres Aussitzen die Probleme nochmals vergrößern. Wir geben ihnen die freie Hand.

FT (Anmeldung erforderlich): „Mental bias leaves us unprepared for disaster“, 18. August 2017