Bryan Caplan  

Who Says Economics Causes Asperger's?

PRINT
Does the Public Want Smaller G... How People in the Biz Explain ...

Patri son of David son of Milton begins by approvingly quoting Stu:

When I have a problem that concerns one of my kids... I could visualize my child standing on the other side of a line, next to "The Problem", with me yelling across the line, "Hey, you better solve "The Problem." Instead, I get myself to stand next to my child, with "The Problem" alone on the other side of the line, with me putting an arm around my child, saying "Hey, you and me, we're gonna defeat "The Problem" together."
Then Patri moves on to a great lesson in how to win friends and influence people:
This cognitive reframing doesn't just apply to parent:child relationships, but many other places such as husband:wife, manager:report, and worker:coworker. Basically, anywhere that you need to bring up a problem that someone else is causing or contributing to, where there is enough shared interest that the "same team" model is reasonable.

It does not always work - your bid for connection may be refused, with the person insisting that The Problem is yours to deal with. But by setting things up so that The Problem is separate from the person, you avoid the mistake of making the person feel attacked or criticized, which usually puts them on the defensive and makes them less likely to do what you want.

Besides the short-term benefits, the person is likely to feel better about whatever it is they do, even if they would have done it anyway, because it's always more pleasant to choose to do something that to be told...

How did Patri figure this out after being raised by a pack of Chicago economists? Trick question: He learned it from a pack of Chicago economists:
This notion of separating the idea and the person is old hat to many economists, of course, who can smilingly shred each others theories without anyone ever imagining it was personal or getting defensive. But in many situations - with kids, in close relationships, when there is a power imbalance, when the issue lies close to someone's identity - academic detachment is less natural, and so this technique can help. While I find the economist's way quite natural in some situations (like work), in my home life I get defensive far more easily, even about minor topics. This technique (used on me) helps reduce the defensiveness I feel as well as (used on others) that which I cause.
Wow, I'm getting a sense of deja vu!


Comments and Sharing





COMMENTS (4 to date)
B writes:

Patri son of David son of Milton

I believe you mean Patri, son of Cariadoc of the Bow, son of the Great Leaping Gnome of the Windy City.

* I have read, but cannot locate, an article about Milton Friedman in the WSJ, which recounted the incident in which he was at a party, arguing about economics, and the arguer tried to make a run for the exit -- and Friedman vaulted over a couch to cut him off and keep talking.

Patri Friedman writes:

Glad you liked it, Bryan. I've been very interested in psychology & self-development lately from a sort of "hacking and patching the human brain" perspective.

BTW, I'm not sure if "how to win friends and influence people" was an idle or an actual reference, but if you haven't read the book, it's fascinating and still applicable (not like human nature changes).

Anyway, let me know if you ever make it to the bay area, we should hang out.

liberty writes:

"and Friedman vaulted over a couch to cut him off and keep talking."

LOL. I feel like I do that a lot.

Julianna writes:

What does this have to do with Asperger's? (I assume Asperger's Syndrome)

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top