Another chance to hear Daniel Kaheneman, interviewed by Kirsty Young in August 2013. Widely acknowledged as one of the world's most influential living psychologists, his many years of study have centred on how and why we make the decisions we do. As a child, he lived in Nazi occupied France and he says that, from a young age, he already had a pretty good idea that he wanted to be an academic. He says "My mother had a big influence ... in fact I credit her with the fact that I became a psychologist ... because she got me interested in people and listening to gossip. I've been fascinated by gossip ever since." DISC ONE: Don MacLean - American Pie DISC TWO: Tino Rossi - Bohémienne aux Grands Yeux Noirs DISC THREE: Shirat Hanoded (the wanderer’s song) sung by Betty Klein DISC FOUR: Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, 2nd movement, performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Frederick Stock with Arthur Schnabel on piano DISC FIVE: Danny Kaye - Ugly Duckling DISC SIX: The Beatles - Eleanor Rigby DISC SEVEN – Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A Major DISC EIGHT: Bach Piano Suite – played by Daniel’s grandson Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Previously sounds: music radio broadcasts high, lower Lavinia desert island discs is taking its usual summer break so to keep you in detail and until we're back on it, we ve chosen some fabulous additions from our back catalogue to listen to while your own, your holidays as usual, as this is a protest, the music has been shortened for rights reasons this week's cast, way is psychologist and nobel laureate, Daniel conniston kirsty young costume away in august twenty thirteen
My customary this week is the psychologist, Daniel common, whose work in the fields of judgment and decision making led to him being awarded the nobel prize for economics. His work has revealed extraordinary truths about emotional happiness, are life, satisfaction and something called behavioral economics. What motivates individuals and institutions to make the financial choices they do? He
He is a much valued voice of wisdom amid the global economic crisis. At sixteen he says he already had a pretty good idea of where he wanted to be going. Maybe his jewish families flight from nazi occupied france and his father's untimely death six weeks before didi helped focus his mind on what was important. He says my mother had a big influence. In fact, I credit her with the fact that I became a psychologist because she got me interested in people and listenin to gossip. I've been fascinated by gossip ever since her. Let sties then danny with gossip. That seems to me a pretty brave utterance forever
an academic. We dont really associate intellectual rigour with the idea that sir gossip can be a good thing. Well, you know what I have noticed is that, at least for myself I am a great deal better at finding mistakes and what other people do than what I do, and I think it's generally the case that people see others much more clearly them they see themselves, they think also for people when disobey gossip they tend to make better decisions than if they didn't anticipate gossip and had done excite college That's what the academics call it. We call it what makes us happy and has been a significant area of study for you. I wonder what makes you happy at this time, certainly the greatest source of happiness, romeo, my grandchildren, I would say, and then its feeling comfortable in the world in ways that I didn't when I was a feeling more sure myself, that makes me happy and its
only true, isn't it that older people are happier? Oh, yes. Definitely there is a clear trend. The worse years. I think I'll win people have adolescence at home and then things look up from there. You have a process Your list of eight disk tell me about the first. Is that we're going to hear this morning, then why'd, you pick this one on what is it well? the first one, is american pie and for me it's related to a particular experience. When Career really was about to take off. I met a hero of my his name was taken nicer. He was. A generation ahead of me, and I visit him at cornell in his lab and we, clicked- and I had had an idea in a topic. In which he was an expert, any said, let's go home and think about it. Then we went to his place and he was playing this record and he played it several times because they asked him to play it several times,
and that's my memory. My servant was with me the day. Did this the day that. dont maclean an american pie? You looked any communists issue enjoying every single municipalities. What you character rise as emotional happiness and life, satisfaction or two. It is a very rich research for you. Can you explain to people simply how they differ? Well, Emotional happiness is how you feel about your life. Will you living it and left This action is how you feel about you life when you're thinking about it
and we live it all the time we think about it occasionally, but life satisfaction is very important to people, in fact, that Think people do more to achieve satisfaction than to achieve happiness and lie satisfied. She is about goals that we may have set ourselves early on, that we then achieve indeed rife and what which goals seem to be the one minute. I am also massively thinking of things like money family and love www. Some you, some goals are better than other and talking of goals that people have a sad aged eighteen and it turns out that people who have the goal of getting a lot of money they do make. money than others and those who make a lot of money or actually happier than average and those people the Eighteen, oh say that money doesn't matter to them. Twenty five years later, money really doesn't matter to them very much they are equally satisfied with their life, regardless of their income. Those people are eighteen have said yes, I would like to.
Money and who, later in life, have not those who have not really disappointed Then there is one goal. That is a bad one where most people have that goal at eighteen are unhappy at eight forty five- and this is the goal to be performing artists, because so few people succeed. Emotional happiness is in part due to genetics. That's too, as it mostly mostly this. This actually, a gene has been identified that affects optimism. Unhappiness pessimism and miseries unites us all genetics. We have some degrees of freedom. Things can be won. So better, but genetics has a lot to do with it. I would say that the genetic determination happiness is almost a strong with the determination of height. So if
somebody is, as they might say, themselves a born pessimist. It would seem more likely than that they create circumstances where there's a sort of self fulfilling prophecy you know like life is bad and dull and difficult, and therefore life is battened down, indifferent, No, you know I'm a born pessimist and I don't feel like that way. I think there are many vantages to being born pessimists, them never disappointed and that's quite an enjoyable states. And what about the subject of memory- it doesnt according to you, it doesn't really correspond to what actually has happened in our past. That's the end of it. That is the important bit it's not actually going through the experience. I think that's quite true. We summarize it in a few still pictures, in a few memories, and when we think of the future, we tend to think of the future resident submitted memory of it. Can you give us an example of that? Well, I'm asking people to think about the vacation and asking them to imagine that at the end of the location, the camera will be destroyed,
and they will get a drug that will make them amnesic, so there will be no memory and others still interested in having a vacation and it is then that you realise how much you go to vacations in order to remember them, but actually another is very good point in going to vacation. You will not remember, you will have a good time we should think of living and not only of remembering and horse about. When you talk to me today about the memories of your life, what will I be listening to then I'll be listening to the massive that use construct? the parts if you like those, we worked very arbitrary on earth and let's have some more music went on your second disk of the morning. What are we gonna hear? Well when I was four years old, when I lived in paris that was just before the war, we were well to do in them aid suppose, when my mother wasn't home, made me croon to the other main,
it was all around a courtyard. Then all the kitchens face the courtyard and I sang the sun and that's the first somewhere remembered me. Very good. Aubrey. We have even less that was tina. See and bohemian aucoin, your nor so daniel tenement, Parents were lithuanian, choose living in paris. What was it like for you than? Apart from singing to the amassed maids and the way I was very nice until the war began, then the
began and we'll drew's. It was fun Actually I remember the very first graphite drew. I must have been seven and I drove the graph of the family fortunes function. Time and iran, nineteen forty forty one, it went under zero and that's where it stayed for a number of years Your father was a successful man. Tell me was a successful man. He was chief of chemistry for A branch of loyal, lol was was led at the time by moist vary very anticipating person and he loved. My father was a do. They actually saved my father. My father was picked up by the day. Bones and william had him released and they sent us food packages throughout the war. My father died before the day, but sir very complicated story how much did you understand as a little boy about what was going on? I understood the whole thing,
my worst memory, but it will give you the feeling of wood, it's that was. life. It was a year when it was too dangerous to go to school, so I stayed home and every night I would pray to god, and I I knew that it was war time that god was very busy, but I was I was asking for another day. I mean every day the possibility was there being caught and of its being the last they tell me about your mother, whose passes my mother was a big influence on me. She was a pessimist. She was very clever. She was a gas it ass. She loved talking about people and was always a good and bad side. I think my interest in people's with my mother and you ve written about an instance when, as a little boy, you were waiting a sweater which had to have the star of David soon on it, and you turn the sweater inside out.
You give earnestness and useful nineteen forty one, the germans, they cared a curfew and jews. That was before extermination really began, and I always stay the curfew. I was with a friend and I had to come back home and the street was, I noted that there was a german soldier walking toward me and he was wearing back and black with. Yes, they were the worst of the worst and he beckoned me am. I went and he picked me up, and I remember that my great fear with that he would see inside my sweater, but he didn't and he hugged me and he opened his wallet and those a picture
the boy- and that was his son and and that to me, was really an example of the complexity of human nature. I think that incidents are the big impact. You don't mean it was a matter of puzzlement, then I think we knew it at the time that hitler love children and flowers, and it was very hard to put together, but it's that complexity of human nature that I find fascinating time for some more music than economy. And what are we gonna, united Europe years out of the morning? Well, I moved to Israel from france at a time and it was a complete transformation formation. For me, I had been a very weak physically in and in Israel. I was very lucky I was held back a great, and so I was just as good physically as my enthusiasm, and life was very good and there is a song which was the very first. He blew some very learned and it stayed in my memory. The woods sounded very funny to me as a trial. They still do and then
something sentimental warm above the sum that I have always loved, and so I wanted to play it see you in your name. Let me in handling I am sure, Hannah, the wanderers song sunday, thereby Betty klein so as you are telling us that any you, your father, died when you were running
ten and you move to what was characterized than is mandatory palestine sorts of life had a huge shift. What are your strongest memory? Life first memory actually was well. The whole family came in a bus and my uncle bought me a glass of milk, and that was the first glass of milk. I heads seen for four or five years, and then the other memory was feeling normal for the first time, and you say you up backing you just buy them the vagaries of the war and all the rest of your very clever. boy? I was a very clever little boy, but I must have been hopelessly pompous, so I would write essays when I was in france, but in Well, you know they were friends. Then the scout, there were many other things that were very good form and why the with your father no longer being there and, of course no longer having his income, will you
situation in order not of reality, because my mother had a family there, and so we went back to the family and family actually took care of my mother to her last day mean I'm very close to my cousins. They are now like my siblings and did you have siblings? I had a sister was my best friend and she d She died the year I gotta know about price. She died a pretty six month earlier, and that was one of my biggest regret. Possibly. The first thing I thought of was that she didn't get to get the news time for someone using than economy were on your fourth of the morning, tell me about this. Will when I was about thirteen, we had moved to Israel and I was
living within ants and she had a gramophone and I fell in love with a piece of music and it's the first piece of music. I fell in love with and its novels be calling of bitter wines and broken shelter. and I have loved it all my life
It was also schnabel plain paucity havens, emperor concerto, the second movement. He was accompanied by the chicago symphony
conducted by frederick stalk, so any kind of were seventeen really when you decided absolutely that psychology was what you were going to go on to make your future studies about You diverge a military service until after you, ve got your degree and then you joined and I'm not sure officially when it was cold, but you were doing psychological analysis on people in the military. It was simply we had inherited from the british army. Actually it was a way to assess candidates for office with training, and there was a field test which involve taking a group of people and tell them to do something with a telephone bottle like pass an obstacle with sort of constraints, while we, the psychologist on the side, take notes, and what was very striking to me was that you could actually see the personalities you with their true nature was like and then every month we would get feedback from the
it's a training school and they would tell us how well we were doing whether we could predict, who would be a good cadet and who would not and the answer was always the same- we could we had. No idea what they were going to do. But what was truly remarkable was in on this list with the army, so we here on friday that our work is useless but sunday morning that would be a new batch of recruits would take them to the to the obstacle course, and the statistics have absolutely no effect in reducing our confidence. in our ability to see the true nature of people. They called it the illusion of validity. That is, we felt we were valid, although we knew we were not. Can you give me examples of more situations where you could employ that prison. Say that's what's happening there, The illusion of validity is really everywhere can see think very similar to it in the financial world we have.
People who really know in principle that you cannot do better than the market, but to some how feel that they can do better than the mark then, with them, not hypocrites, they're not lying to anyone they too, we feel that they can do something they know. Cannot be done, I think many predictions are useless. An economist really know it. They know certain things, so it's not as if it totally lacking in expertise. They dont know the limits of their expertise and they don't feel or realise that their expertise doesn't extend to predicting the future. Good time to take a break for some music them. We're on your face of the morning why beaches and well, during my adolescence than a k, was a hero of mine and I stole many sentences from his songs in particular one that was quite important to my thinking and in fact there is a chapter in my book that comes directly from any k and
describes, favorite form of exercise is jumping to conclusions. It's not in the sense that we are going to hear, but it's another of my favorite than a case where once wasn't went past us having an wrong and the other man. If I can get out, get out, get out get out of and he went with a black and white and a lack of maria. I do that Danny K and ugly duckling. So Daniel common, you won the nobel prize for economics. It was not psychology, but you you want it for work,
You had done really in collaboration. Tell me about network, will extraordinary lucky individual, because I've form a friendship early on with my colleague, MR whisky, who many people consider the most intelligent person they had and we got together. We liked each other, and he made me funny. He was funny always and so for about fifteen years we were, central, inseparable and intellectually and physically. We spent a lot of our time together, and and we just had had a shed mind which was better them either while separate mind. Very few people have that look answer than ever. A prize was awarded for your work on something called prospect. Theory. It must first be had died by the time that this was awarded to is awarded singularly to you. They cannot be awarded. Posthumously
and can you explain to all of us prospect feeding the most boiled and straightforward way? What was slightly different about prospect, theory from which had existed before most theories? of decision making up to that point have been theories of how people should behave and what are the rational way to be, and we just wanted to describe the decision that people do make intuitively they're intuitive preferences, There were two essential deviations of departure is that we made from the way that things were conceived earlier. And they have been very influential retrospectively. They looked quite trivial in fact they must. Then I frequently joke that our grandmothers knew everything that we study. Because one of all discoveries and quote was loss aversion that people are much more sensitive to Lhasa than to equivalent gains Can you give me a concrete example, then? Well we're going to toss a coin.
And depending on where it lands, you will either lose ten pounds Oh, you will win x and our us. An old candor. What would accept to be for that gamble to be attractive to you. and it turns out it snub, then, in a penny, it's a lot more. In fact, for most people, it's more than twenty pounds So, in order to compensate for the loss of ten pounds, you need again of more than twenty that's what we called loss aversion So let's translate prospect through than into something scale it up into something that would be a sort of world well evident from prose. Victory would say that most attempts to reform society are going to have a lot of difficulty because any attempt to form is going to involve winners and losers, and the winners are going to fight less hot forty. Their gains than the losses are to protect, but they have.
And as a result reforms will always be distorted and favours other potential losers, and they would more expensive than they were intended to be at some time, the fatal together- and this happens time and time again, but then for loses fight, a great deal harder than potential windows and That why then, for example, in the media, in others, a huge amount of conversation right now here in britain about cuts? You know people who are going to be on the receiving end of the cuts and and an argument for people's english, you in too much about that were not indeed about the benefits to society at large? Is that without being examined exactly it would mean the people suffering the cuts there in the losses, and our ethical system actually is based on the idea that people are entitled
would, they have, and you cannot impose losses on, will not imposing losses and ranting games is not the same thing ethically does not enough very first study. This was not what they must do so with another very close friend richard sailor. We ask: is it all right for a hardware store It has been selling shovel for ten dollars to raise the price twenty dollars during a blizzard, and it turns out it's not all right people think it's scandalous in the united states. People are a little more tolerant that incur the way we did, that researchers was really considered absolutely improper have some more music and then economy. What we're gonna hear now on your you, six we're going to have the music that was actually in the background when
famous must, and I were working for the late sixties and the early where the year of the beatles for us and so we're going to hear my favorite beatles song her eyes were aware of ngos. The winner wearing a job. Who is? It That was the beatles and Elinor Rick, be sudan economy and one of the other people. The important people that you ve had a collaboration with. Is your wife tell me about when you first met well of fools myths,
She was giving a triumphant talk. She was a communist psychologist and I heard the sensation was, I think, one of the most famous the in in the twentieth century in psychology very influential, and so she was giving a series of talks on over the united states. and she gave one that was joint at mit and harvard, and so I volunteered to guide her. I was acquainted with her mother and then husbandman two children and many many years later we got together, but that meeting changed my life and the orientation of my work. So it was twelve years before you, to be married on that first time that you saw her. What was it the case that it was just happen? Professional gave a bill since that would this nation was like a goddess to me. She was very beautiful, as well as very modest to in extraordinary achievement summit. We were all plebeian,
compared to her. It was rebates amply, and so, as you say, and treatment, as is very, very well known and distinguished in her field, there are times when it would be fair to say- and this is extraordinary to save us to know by lorry at you. You are mister treatment. You do play sort of second fiddle to her. I just did earlier this year. She got enough medical science from president obama and I was at the white house and my favorite experience. There was a long time ago and she became a fellow of the royal society. I would the army's male spouse. There were forty people, thirty nine women and fraud dresses, but me with my very formal suit. They tried to force me into newtons room, unite the place, we learn the signature and then they had a television programme to entertain them.
bases, which was the chemistry of cooking. If they wouldn't do it today so condescending when you have collaborated with your wife on work, what has been the focus? Well, we worked together on attention. Attention has been a field and I switched to her field after hearing her talk just because I was so captivated it was doktor limb than other collaboration and working with your wife. Then people will often say whether its opening a cafe or writing a book that working with your spouse can be a particularly tricky experience. Was it feisty? Was it will? It was really the first yellow? Yes, oh yes, it was. It was quite feisty, we survive, but it was thin, sweet, different points of view, and we started took us years before we the grease efficiently to write a good paper about. Let's have some music and any. What we can do here were on your sentence.
well. There was a long period of my life when I was writing in working with background music. That period came to failure rubbed end. Actually, when I realise that I was much better at writing in silence, then with the music, but for years I didn't know that, and I had of course your favorite some sugar, some malta and the selection of baked is one of my old timeframe,
mozart, clarinets, quintet and a major player, thereby they amadeus quartet with surveys to pile on clarinet. Let us talk, then, for a moment any about him Damn what can we do when we were at the centre of a storm to make ourselves cope with it in a way that will be? was psychologically healthy, think that them Are you resources friends? People must have friends that they can consult in crisis, because people cannot decide to be wise, but they can trust someone, as I can tell you. I know how you will feel a year from now. You can't because you're with your feelings, right now, that is, was them that friends can import, and if I have one piece of advice for people well to one is pick the right goals, be the goals that you can meet and spend a lot
time with friends so much of what you say and so much of what I have heard you say by watching your lectures and reading or written, although its based in paris, evidence. So much of it sounds like old wisdom. You think of something Grandmother said which was an old scottish lady them no happy for all their money. This happy to but there are things that we believe that will make us happy, but actually it's an allusion to do. They sometimes feel like old wisdom to you. They are except others, something that's like all of you say about old wisdom, which is that you can find anything and its contrary and hold so confined problems today. Absolutely any point of view and they sound right. Empirical work doesn't work that way, so whatever you say is always going to sound like old wisdom, but there are many things. Don't say that would also sound was what a good point
You know that I'm going to abandon you today to a desert island and how will you be presumably very unhappy because you will not have your friends and hand? Yes, This dialogue is not a great place for me now. So let us then here for now your eighth peace tell me what you gonna hear. Finally, today The last piece is when I selected a month ago, I was in Israel and my grandson with sixteen played a piece of music for me, and I said, oh that's, the solution to my problem here is my grandson playing the piano he recorded it for me,
that was box paean in Sweden. By then his grandson or issue, so I come
the point, then, that any kind where I give you the books, you get, sir, the bible or the Torah, if you prefer, we'll, take the bible them all. The better. Ok, we'll give you that, and also the complete works of shakespeare, and you can take one other book. What would you like to choose? I will take the source alone. I have plans. for it is not the sort of a similar limbs were there not quite synonyms, and I think there is a lifetime of activity finding differences between near synonym. So that's the game I would play on the visit I rise. We shall give you that aunt em a luxury to realign something mountainous island to make life just a little more bearable. For me, there's no hesitation at all. I would like to take my home recline everything, my oh, you may it's the perfect chair of own trails, like that for the last twenty five years or gay, you can take that and also one track that you would save if the waves threatened to wash them away, which track what you saw. Undoubtedly my grandson.
sadly at any common daniel can when thank you very much for letting us here, your desert island discs. It was truly my pleasure That was one of my favorite editions from the archive. I do. You enjoy danny's conversation with kirsty, which was first broadcast in twenty. Thirteen you'll find fellow EL, the rates of banking on the christian martin evans and when the rhine mattei in the desert island discs, backup. On BBC sounds or on the website. Next time he'll have another chance to hear the wonderful children's author, late Judith com,
Transcript generated on 2022-06-08.