When a satisfactory answer to a hard question is not found quickly, our mind tends to imagine a related question that is easier and constructs an answer for it. This processes, answering one question in place of another, is mostly involuntary and known as substitution principle. It’s better to stay mired in a genuine confusion than to bask in the comfort of a false conclusion.
Let me ask you a simple question – How happy are you these days?
Take few seconds to think about it. Now, let me ask you another simple question – How was your stock portfolio performance in past one month?
The second question is perhaps simpler because the data is easily available from your portfolio tracker. But is there a way that the second question would have affected the answer to your first question? “Of course not!” you would claim. First, you didn’t know the second question when you were thinking about the first answer. Second, even if you knew both the questions in advance, the second question would not have affected the answer to the first question. Right?
But what if I reversed the order of the questions? If I asked you about your stock portfolio performance followed by the question about your overall satisfaction with life?
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