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Maximisers vs Satisficers

There are two main types of decision-makers:

  • Maximisers: They want to ensure they get the most out of their choices.
  • Satisficers: They tend to adopt a 'good enough' approach.

Each one has its benefits and drawbacks. Understanding which one you are can help improve your choices.


Do 'maximisers' or 'satisficers' make better decisions?

A maximiser will weigh choices carefully to find the best one. On paper, their decisions look well-informed, logical and efficient.

But there are drawbacks. They have trouble making the perfect decision and take a very long time finding the best solution. Once they do find a solution, they may experience regret about their choice.

Satisficers are people who prefer to make decisions quickly by weighing fewer choices and then go with their gut. They opt for what's acceptable, not for the 'best' option.

A drawback is that they may not get the 'best' outcome that will give them the maximum return.

Most people fall somewhere between maximiser and satisficer. The perfect mix would be to satisfice most of the time and only maximise a decision when the stakes are high, such as buying a house or choosing a job.

However, after the choice, you have to return to thinking like a satisfice to prevent feeling dissatisfied with your decision.

  • Satisficers: People who are too impulsive should avoid hasty decisions. They should spend more time thinking about the decision and the pros and cons of each possible outcome.
  • Maximisers: If you find yourself maximising too much, try to limit some of your options.

Preparation steps before a note-taking session:

  • Try to get familiar with the topic that is going to be discussed, beforehand. This leads to better understanding.
  • Make sure you have adequate notepaper and writing material.
  • Stay hydrated and consume caffeine moderately.
  • Don't go in hungry, opting for a wholesome snack.
  • Have a positive attitude, and a willingness to pay attention.
  • If something is getting repeated in class or is indicated to be important, pay attention.

How to Take Better Notes: The 6 Best Note-Taking Systems

Taking a structured approach to note-taking is the best way. Put the outline notes by choosing four or five key points of the lecture, followed by in-depth sub-points. One way to review is to use the Cornell Method, which divides the note sheet into three sections:

  • Cues: It includes key questions and main points.
  • Notes: Which you write during the class using the outline method. 
  • Summary: Which you can write after class while reviewing.

The Mind Map

The mind map is a visual diagram of abstract concepts.

It works best in subjects like chemistry, history and philosophy, subjects having a neural network like interlocked and complex topics. 

  • Simply Write on PPT Slides: An easy method to take notes is to just write on the slides of the presentation. The PPTs have note-taking space in them and if you are able to get them in advance, the whole process becomes simple.
  • Bullet Journaling: Turn a blank page into a beautiful representation of your thought process. You can go crazy and include mind maps, flow notes, colorful design styles, making the note-taking process a delight, and learning in the process.

Using a laptop is not an ideal way to take notes or to learn, during a lecture.

  • A laptop distracts and impairs the learning process, as you might be tempted to play games or multitask with it during lectures.
  • In the old-school hand-written method, you are processing the information, leading to better understanding and learning.
  • How you use the computer also matters, and many students can use the internet to learn or re-check information on the fly.
Steps to becoming a critical reader

It is important to understand the basic structure and content of the text you are reading.

  • Consider the purpose for reading, like gathering information.
  • Think about the title. What does it tell you about what the book or essay is about?
  • Reflect on what you already know about the topic. Do you have a preconceived idea of what to expect?
  • Skim the opening sentence of each paragraph under the headings.
  • Read carefully, marking the places you find confusing or significant.
  • Identify key arguments the author makes, along with important terms and interesting ideas.
  • Make notes in the margin or on a separate sheet of paper.
  • Question the sources cited by the author.
  • What is the one question you would like to ask the author?
  • What did you like best about the work as a whole? What bothered you?

Become a Critical Reading Pro With These Tips

  • Reading critically can aid you when studying for a test, preparing for a discussion, and more.
  • If you have unanswered questions about the text, ask your professor or discuss the text with others.
  • Consider keeping a reading log to help you track your perceptions about reading.
Our Working Memory

The limited amount of load we can take on our working memory, which functions like computer RAM, is called the cognitive load.

Miller's Law states that we need to limit our cognitive loads and hold on to approximately seven number of objects at a given time.

Productive cognitive load: make the most of your working memory

To increase our learning performance, we need to balance our cognitive load. It helps to understand what the three types of cognitive loads are:

  1. Intrinsic cognitive Load: The inner load we feel when we are calculating something complex. This is a fixed load on the brain.
  2. Extraneous cognitive load: Presenting information or a task in a certain way, like visually or verbally, making it easier to understand.
  3. Germane cognitive load: It is the flow-chart constructions of the brain, which help in long-term learning. The mind makes information easier to grasp by creating maps and inner processes, helping us understand better.
  1. Grouping or chunking of various pieces of information into different sections, making them easier to retrieve and remember.
  2. Making mind maps or process maps, and also thinking in maps making constructive associations and flow-charts.
  3. Clearing your mind by taking your thoughts out of it and projecting it where they are better visualized. This is also known as brain-dumping, and writing is a good way to understand context, build associations and improve memory.
  4. Collaborating with others using brainstorming sessions, Idea-meets, or creating a learning plan together as a team, confluence style.
All people read much in the same way

People everywhere read words in a very similar way regardless if it is made from pictures, such as pictographs (Chinese characters), or words made from letters.

This knowledge gives us insight into how writing developed and how we read as well as how we can delve deeper into creativity and communication.

Reading, That Strange and Uniquely Human Thing - Issue 94: Evolving - Nautilus

Some of the earliest writing is from 3000B.C. Mesopotamia. They recorded entries on tablets about the quantities of goods in some kind of bookkeeping.

They wrote down in order to keep account of who delivered what when. But this system was still far away from expressing ideas and writing great works of literature.

  • Ancient writing took the leap from drawing a picture as a picture (a logogram) to using it to depict a sound (or phonogram). A "bee" can be used for the sound "be", and when used together with a drawing of a "leaf", they produce the meaning "be-lief."
  • But ambiguity arises when we don't know when a bee is a bee, and when is it a sound. Classifiers were added to clear up the confusion. Chinese still uses this system, with pictures, classifier elements, plus phonetics.
  • Around 4,000 ago, the alphabet was invented, where symbols only depicted a sound.

Japanese children learn two writing systems: The kanji system is based on Chinese characters, and the kana system is purely phonetic.

  • Research shows that the same areas in the brain are activated when reading both types of script.
  • There are dyslexic readers in both areas, whether they are reading pictographic Chinese or the phonetic alphabet, suggesting that dyslexia has nothing to do with script.

Different areas of the brain are active when we read. We extract visual information that is correlated with sound to get meaning.

Reading does not just involve learning the letters. You have to understand and recognize the words, too. Skilled readers learn to recognize the whole word as a unit and connect it directly to meaning.

The 'Eureka' moment

Eureka moments may seem unpredictable and unreplicable. But there are ways to coax these inspired ideas from their hiding places. One of the best is to take a break from thinking about a problem or dilemma.

They are linked to the story of Archimedes and the gold crown ( when he realized while taking a bath that he can use displaced water to assess the density of the king's crown and, therefore, its gold content).

The Science Behind Eureka Moments

When you’re completely stuck on a problem, setting it aside can lead to new ideas or even flashes of insight.” 
Mental Break
A 2019 study titled “When the Muses Strike” found that many physicists and writers had creative insights while they exercised, showered, gardened, or engaged in other predominantly physical activities which gave them a mental break.
The mind needs space

...not distractions. Activities like checking email and watching TV stop our background thinking and do not let the mind wander in places that make for creative insight.

Creativity and relaxation
  • Creativity is closely related to play, not work, so do not have an agenda.
  • Lighten up and let yourself loose, free to roam and explore.
  • The mind left to itself starts to work creatively in the background at a subconscious level.
The purpose of the historic context

Historical context deals with the details of the time and place surrounding memories, stories, and characters.

The details enable us to interpret and analyze works of the past or the future, rather than judging them only by contemporary standards.

Understanding Historic Context Is Key to Analysis and Interpretation

Historical context is important when interpreting behavior and speech.

For example: "Sally hid her hands behind her back and crossed her fingers before she answered." It sounds innocent on its own. However, reading it as a statement from a transcript during the 1692 Salem Witch Trials will make you realize that she was a candidate for the gallows.

We cannot fully appreciate or understand a work of literature without context.

Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" cannot be fully understood if the reader is unaware of the Romantic movement in the early 19th century. The lives of Europeans were transformed by the technological disruptions of the Industrial Age. The Romantics captured the public's sense of isolation and fear that many experienced. Knowing this backdrop changes "Frankenstein" into an allegory for how technology can destroy us.

  • Scholars and educators rely on historical context to analyze and interpret art, literature, music, dance, and poetry.
  • Architects and builders refer to it when restoring existing buildings.
  • Judges may use it to interpret the law.

Rationalism is the philosophical idea where reason is the ultimate source of human knowledge.

It stands in contrast to empiricism, where the senses are enough to justify knowledge.

Rationalism: Reason as the Key to Knowledge

René Descartes thought we know objects through reason.

Simple problems may be solved using our senses, but more complicated issues need reason to figure it out. We can easily distinguish between a triangle and a square. But when we consider two polygons, one with a thousand sides and the other with a thousand and one sides, we use reason to tell them apart.

Rationalism characterizes a wide range of philosophical topics.

  • How do we know who and what we are? Rationalists claim the self is known through rational intuition, while the empiricist thinks that the unity of the self is illusory.
  • What is the nature of cause and effect? Rationalists claim casual links are known through reason. The empiricist replies that it is because of habit that we know, for example, that a fire is hot.
  • How do we know which actions are ethically correct? Kant argued that ethical worth could only be understood from a rational perspective. Moral evaluation takes place when rational agents consider their actions under hypothetical conditions.
Guru Madhavan
"The core of the engineering mind-set is what I call modular systems thinking. It’s not a singular talent, but a melange of techniques and principles. Systems-level thinking is more than just being systematic; rather, it’s about the understanding that in the ebb and flow of life, nothing is stationary and everything is linked. The relationships among the modules of a system give rise to a whole that cannot be understood by analyzing its constituent parts."

The Three Essential Properties of the Engineering Mind-Set

Thinking in Systems

It means to be able to break down a big system into its sections and putting it back together. The target is to identify the strong and weak links: how the sections work, don’t work, or could potentially work and applying this knowledge to engineer useful outcomes.

There is no engineering method, so modular systems thinking varies with contexts.

  • The ability to see a structure where there’s nothing apparent.
  • Adeptness at designing under constraints.
  • The capacity to hold alternative ideas in your head and make considered judgments.
Fiction and the mind

Stories, fiction included, act as a kind of replacement for life. You can learn information from them very effortlessly. You'll also remember false information without realizing and will find fictional stories emotionally arousing.

The reason we react to fiction as though it were real is that our mind does not even realize that fiction is fiction.

Most of the Mind Can’t Tell Fact from Fiction

When stories are done well, they are like artificial sweeteners - they fool the mind into thinking we're consuming the real thing.

For example, children sometimes really believe that puppets are alive. Even animals sometimes react to pictures as if they are real things.

The rational part of our mind knows that what we're looking at, or reading, isn't real. However, the perceptual areas of our brains are very closely connected to our emotions.

Emotions force us to interpret the world differently. Research reveals how fear can affect vision, moods can make us more or less susceptible to visual illusions, and desire can change the apparent size of goal-relevant objects.




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