Sunday, February 13, 2011

Predictable Preference Reversals in Snowboarding Holidays

So I spent the last few days going snowboarding. I had arranged to go for three days, and head back early afternoon on the 4th day, on a 2:30 flight.

Now, when I started on the first day, I immediately regretted not booking for a fourth day and flying home in the evening. I started to think about whether I could change my flight, or alternatively whether I could at least cram in a morning of snowboarding before my flight.

But I'd been through this game before, and the three day choice was a deliberate one. Because every snowboarding holiday goes exactly the same way. On the first day, you're so stoked to be there that you immediately regret not booking for longer. But as you get to day two and three, you're pretty exhausted. Due to poor technique and male pig-headedness in not getting enough lessons, my front knee began to feel like an arthritic cripple in the days before knee surgery, when tearing an ACL was described as you having a 'dicky knee' for the rest of your life.

And by the end of the third day, it was a positive relief to be going home the next day. The prospect of a fourth day seemed exhausting. I slept in instead, and cheerily got on the plane.

The point is that it's a mistake to think about the question ahead of time as 'Do I want 3 days of snowboarding, or 4?'. The answer to that question is 'Aw hell yeah, snowboarding is so cool, let's do it for as long as possible!'

The correct way of thinking about it is 'When I've already been snowboarding for 3 days, will I feel like I need a 4th day?'. And the answer to THAT question, at least for me, is 'Almost certainly not - in fact you'll barely be able to walk.'

Because if you don't think this way, you'll predictably reverse yourself - you'll book for 3 days because you think you didn't have enough time, pay lots of money to change your flight after the first day because snowboarding is teh awesome, and then get to the third day and wish you hadn't changed you flight after all.

But for some reason, people who are craving an experience find it hard to put themselves in the position of having already enjoyed a good chunk of that experience and deciding whether to have a little more. It's the same reason that when I'm hungry, I always think I'll need the large quiznos sub, and that the regular surely won't be enough. Of course by the time I've eaten a regular-sized portion of the large sub, I'm feeling mostly full. But this never seems to instinctively occur to me at the time of ordering.

In the spirit of overcoming bias, even though I always feel like I need a large, I restrict myself to the rule of 'no matter how hungry you feel right now, just order the regular anyway'. And it works. Same with the 3 day snowboarding holiday.

In case you're wondering what Shylock snowboarding looks like, it's a combination of this:

and this:

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