How to avoid buyer anxiety – by Howard Popeck. 003

Welcome back. Hopefully you’ve read the previous two parts.So, where are we going with this? I ask on your behalf because of course whether to accompany me (and everyone else on this path) is a decision in itself. So to help you reach a quality decision then here are a few extracts from future parts of the series. To make this more digestible these are in a Q&A format. And so ….. here we go.

What is the main thrust of this series Howard?

The core is the idea of cognitive dissonance, where the brain has to reconcile two contrasting viewpoints. For example in the audiophile world the self belief that " I am rational and intelligent" with the action " I do trust the audio makers / magazines / forums and so on not to embellish the truth".

What’s the primary challenge for the audiophile?

The dissonance could be resolved by concluding that actually I am neither rational nor especially intelligent, but of course few audiophiles want to conclude that!

Okay, fair enough. Will the series explain how to address this?


Isn’t cognitive dissonance just a load of mumbo jumbo?

Not at all. There is wealth of studies that investigate the impact of cognitive dissonance upon our day-to-day lives

Will you be referring to these?

 On a selective basis yes I will. But I'll steer clear of the more in-depth papers. They’re my interest but I’d be unrealistic to expect others to want to progress this to a similar or greater depth. Some might though. Let’s wait and see.

The term ‘cognitive biases’ is a bit jargon-like. Can you demystify this please?

Yes, certainly. Cognitive biases are like optical illusions, distorting our decisions, memories and judgment. My series is focusing in particular on self-directed biases. the distortions of memory and explanation. Or put differently, why so many audiophiles make unwise buying decisions when if they chose not to, and a bit of guidance they wouldn't have to.

Such as?

Primarily the distortions of memory and explanation. Stick with me and you’ll be able to read how acquiescent and unreliable memory is, and how easy it is to create feedback loops of increasing certainty from just a glimmer of evidence.

Hmm. Sounds a bit downbeat. Is it though?

Nope. I don’t think so. I’m going to show how easy it is for good people to make poor audiophile buying decisions and how we can avoid these traps with humility and self-questioning.

 Do you have a rule, perhaps one of many perhaps that you repeat internally and regularly?

 Yes, there are quite a few. Here’s one. The one I use the most – as far as I can tell. “Howard - distrust those who try to convince you that they're always right”

How so?

I feel that there's something inherently puzzling and potentially dangerous about a maker, a magazine, a reviewer, a forum contributor, etc claiming absolute certainty, particularly when it comes to human nature combined with audiophile equipment, music and most importantly the ability of the former to convey the wonder of the latter. There's no place for the concept of absolute when describing human emotional life or buying behaviour though it can be found happily residing in physics, mathematics and so on.

So what’s in the next episode?

If I can find the time I’m going to offer observations on 2 if not all three of the following questions that fascinate me and hopefully most of the blog followers too. So …

  1. Would audiophile buyers be better off if they embraced certain voluntary constraints on their freedom of choice?
  2. Would the typical audiophile buyer be better off seeking that which is “good enough” instead of seeking the best?
  3. Would audiophile buyers be better off if they (and I include me in this) lowered our expectations about the outcome of our decision-making?

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