watch "relativity and immediate gratification" on vimeo
note: Ever since I started mondaydots my friend, Professor Doolittle, has encouraged me to read Back of the Napkin. I finally did this past week and I can easily say it is one my favorite books. I used the SQVID process from his book to refine some of the ideas in this post. If you are interested in the drawings, you can find them here
Most people believe that the inherent need to satisfy immediate gratification stems from greed, a lack of self control, or the ability to sacrifice a smaller short term gain for a greater long term gain. While I agree, I also think that some of our short sighted decisions stem from the natural way we compare alternatives in the decision making process. In fact I think the real cause of immediate gratification can be found in this picture from Dan Ariely's "Predictably Irrational". Which of the darker dots is larger? In this illusion it looks as though the dot on the left is larger. If we do a quick measure, we can easily see that the dots are in fact the same size. Even with this newly minted knowledge if we loose the ruler, our eyes go back to seeing the dot on the left as being larger.