What are second order consequences and why are they important to understanding risk and decision-making?

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Please watch the two videos and read the article in the PDF.

Video links:

TED TALKS sheena_iyengar_choosing_what_to_choose 

Answer ONE (1) of the following questions. Complete ALL required reading and peruse a majority of module materials BEFORE engaging in discussion. Be sure to use and device specific examples to clarify and demonstrate your points. Use the one or two quotes in the article or videos and clarify.

  • What are second order consequences and why are they important to understanding risk and decision-making?
  • What is loss aversion and how can it negatively influence the ability to make sound decisions?
  • What is satisficing, and why/how is it important in understanding risk decision-making?
  • In what specific ways can knowledge about decision rules and heuristics be used reduce the information-knowledge gap between experts and laypersons?
  • Choose a concept or topic from the readings with particular interest to or resonance with you (in terms of your understanding of risk). Explain this concept or topic and its relevance to understanding risk and decision-making.
  • Explain the traditional understanding of dishonest behavior, and discuss the effectiveness of the conventional approach to behavior management.
  • Explain and discuss the perspectives of either a) ecologists, b) political economists, or c) modernization theorists in terms of the contributions and accuracy of these perspectives to understanding the problem of climate change.
  • How do decision rules help to explain and clarify the elements of choice?
  • How do expected values and uncertain values influence choices about risk?


Sheena Iyengar studies how people choose (and what makes us think we’re good at it).

Why you should listen


We all think we’re good at making choices; many of us even enjoy making them. Sheena Iyengar looks deeply at choosing and has discovered many surprising things about it. For instance, her famous “jam study,” done while she was a grad student, quantified a counterintuitive truth about decisionmaking — that when we’re presented with too many choices, like 24 varieties of jam, we tend not to choose anything at all. (This and subsequent, equally ingenious experiments have provided rich material for Malcolm Gladwell and other pop chroniclers of business and the human psyche.)


Iyengar’s research has been informing business and consumer-goods marketing since the 1990s. But she and her team at the Columbia Business School throw a much broader net. Her analysis touches, for example, on the medical decisionmaking that might lead up to choosing physician-assisted suicide, on the drawbacks of providing too many choices and options in social-welfare programs, and on the cultural and geographical underpinning of choice. Her book The Art of Choosing shares her research in an accessible and charming story that draws examples from her own life.


Watch a Facebook-exclusive short video from Sheena Iyengar: “Ballet Slippers” >>

What others say


“The Art of Choosing explores the cultural, social, and biological forces on the complex process of decision-making but is also deeply personal.” — “Books to Read Now,” Seed magazine

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