Tuesday, December 7, 2010

missed opportunities

Motivation costs can be a huge variety of things ranging from time and money to physical and mental exertion. Opportunity costs in particular are very interesting because they are not something that you did or spent, but something that you missed out on doing. Opportunity cost is the main factor in the emotion of regret. We regret things that we did not strictly on the basis that we did not enjoy them, but because we could have been doing something more enjoyable, or more important, which causes us to regret whatever it was that we had done. The opportunity cost is defined as the next most preferred alternative to what we are doing. At first I was under the impression that opportunity costs were all the other things that we could have done instead, but after looking in the text it turns out the opportunity cost consists of only the most preferred alternative. One example in the book that brought some questions to mind however was the one dealing with studying versus watching television. This example was used to show how there can't be multiple opportunity options, but one option may have multiple opportunity costs. The example used watching TV as the most preferred alternative to studying for a class. However, if you had the opportunity to watch TV with friends you would be missing out on watching TV, and socializing at the same time, which would prove to be more preferred than watching TV alone. My question is, what if you are somewhat of a loner and in your mind would more prefer to watch TV alone, even if you would have a better time with friends and would benefit more due to the socialization. Would the most preferred alternative be whatever you most prefer in your mind, or whichever one would end up benifitting you the most, regardless of wheter you know it or not. After typing that I now realize that it most likely would be whatever you consider to be most desirable, because it is a preferred alternative after all, so it would be whatever you prefer. As the number of missed opportunities goes up, so too does the amount of regret you are bound to feel. I wonder what we take into account more when weighing out our missed opportunities, the enjoyability factor or the productivity factor. I'm sure that varies from person to person, depending on self-control and impulsiveness, and overall personal preference. Regardless of who you are though if the task you choose to take on has a high productivity grade, such as completing a 10 page paper that is due a month from now, you will feel a great deal of satisfaction, and not regret your decision. However, if doing the 10 page paper was one of the choices in your missed opportunities, it would not be very high on the preferred list. Many of us don't realize how great a feeling it is to have important responsibilities accomplished in advance, it reduces a great deal of stress. However, getting started is the difficult part because the enjoyability factor isn't really there; it's interesting how the cost can change so greatly when a task is moved from the current task, into the missed opportunity category.

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