World After Capital

Updated 6 months ago

James Marcroft (@jamesmarcroft) started discussion #531

2 years ago · 0 comments


Rabid consumption, positional or otherwise, is especially odd because we know that it doesn't actually do much for us as individuals. Many studies show that people vastly overestimate the happiness they will experience when they own that new car. When you desire something like a new car, your brain gets a hit of dopamine based on your anticipated happiness from having it, making you feel good. Yet once you actually get the car, you compare this to to your prior expectations. If the reward from having the car turns out to be less than what you expected, your dopamine levels will decrease and this can cause extreme disappointment. If your expectations are met, dopamine levels will stay basically constant. But only if your expectations are greatly exceeded will you get another big hit of dopamine. The unfortunate result of this is known as the “hedonic treadmill.” That is, when your brain gets accustomed to certain levels of dopamine (having a new car), you inadvertently boost the levels of dopamine required in the future to produce the same feeling of happiness. You'll have to raise your expectations for an even more expensive or faster car to get that initial kick of dopamine again, as repeated experiences just won't cut it [119].

Psychological Freedom (Edit this file)

The link provided at [119] is broken, however the Wikipedia article on the Hedonic Treadmill explains further ( Also, in neuroscience and computer science this process is called Temporal Difference learning ( "TD Algorithm in Neuroscience" section). TD Learning explains how the brain or an algorithm learns to predict rewards, moving the dopamine/reward signal from the expected reward to predictors of reward. This helps for the achievement of long term goals, but can be problematic when the goal is something intangible such as "happiness" because as you said, the only way to receive an actual dopamine release upon achieving the reward is if it is beyond expectations which is rare in a world with hyper optimized marketing campaigns. 15.6 in Richard Sutton's new book on reinforcement learning explains further: (

No description provided.

No comments on this discussion.

to join this conversation on GitBook. Already have an account? Sign in to comment

You’re not receiving notifications from this thread.

1 participant