Economics

POST #2: Curly v. Straight; Why We Always Want What We Can’t Have

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My hair. I’ve touched on it before, and I suppose that’s because it’s quite a big part of who I am. Both Mum and Dad also have curly hair, and those genes seem to have gleefully combined to create a whopping mass of frizz sitting on top of my head at all times. I don’t hate it, but it is a bit of a nightmare – many a hairbrush has snapped and broken attempting to tame my hair. I keep it up at all times at school; its Afro like tendencies have always been a source of deep embarrassment to me, and this is what I’d like to write about today.

Because throughout my life people have been coming up to me, gently patting my hair and exclaiming, “How thick!” – “How soft!” – “How puffy!” – “How lucky you are!” My friendsΒ at school complain about their hair quite a lot as well; it’s just too greasy, too dry, too thin, too thick, too lank, too limp, too straight.

The grass is always greener, eh?

Right from the start, as toddlers, it was always the toy on the advert we weren’t allowed to buy that threw us into tantrums or sulks. If someone tells you that you won’t get the high result or promotion you want, generally you strive harder to achieve it. And money, too. What does a millionaire do when he’s made a million pounds? Start making the next, of course. For successful businessmen, there’s never enough to stop wanting more. The dream state of ‘enough’ doesn’t seem to exist.

Another example is a woman’s choice in romantic partner. In one study, women were given a photo of an attractive man with interests pretty much aligned to theirs, and asked to consider whether he could potentially be their dream man. Half the women were told he was single, while the other half were told he was in a relationship.

Although only around 59 percent were interested in pursuing the single guy, that number jumped to 90 percent when they thought he was already in a committed relationship.

But why? Why do we always want what we cannot have? This essential problem in human nature stretches right back to the Garden of Eden, and the desire for the forbidden fruit is still as strong today.

Something called the ‘Information Gap Theory‘ might explain this. It was thought up by George Loewenstein, one of the founders of Behavioural Economics (I’m afraid you may read a lot about this on here – it’s my mastermind specialist subject πŸ™‚ ).

The theory goes that if we feel that there’s a difference, or gap, between what we know (ie. knowing that Eddie Redmayne is married) and what we want to know, (ie. dreaming of marrying Eddie Redmayne), we are filled with curiosity and the need / desire to take action to bridge the gap.

I personally think this is a firm, logical answer to an interesting question. George Loewenstein is an extremely clever person and I really admire the work he has done. Does anyone have any opinions?

FURTHER READING:

http://elitedaily.com/life/the-unattainable-urge-to-always-want-what-we-cant-have/

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103109001048?via=ihub

http://theirrationalagencyblog.com/2012/10/08/can-george-loewensteins-curiosity-theory-finally-make-behavioural-economics-work-in-mr/

stock photo from weheartit.com

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4 thoughts on “POST #2: Curly v. Straight; Why We Always Want What We Can’t Have

  1. I absolutely agree with this! I have very thick wavy hair and mostly put mousse in it from a wet state and go with curly. I am constantly getting compliments and having others tell me how much they want my hair.. while I just want it to be straight and a little thinner! This in-between mop of hair drives me insane! There is no fixing it without at least an hour to straighten, and then straighten again, only to have it frizz back out in an hour. God forbid it rains… Also, haven’t read anything from George but the Information Gap theory is quite interesting! This explains the age old question of why people always want you when you’re in a relationship.. but when you are single there’s not a soul around. Good article. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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