What happens after “to hell with it, let’s do it” actually happens

Monday, 15 November, 2010

Formulating a set of contingency instructions – that are a little like if-then scripting statements – to be adhered to should we choose to do something rash, hasty, or otherwise unwise (such as say, hack all the protected images from the facebooks of Harvard University’s colleges), could help us apply the brakes before our hot-headedness really gets the better of us.

You’re probably familiar with what could be called the ‘to hell with it’ effect. It’s when (as demonstrated by lots of research) a bad mood causes us to take risky decisions or engage in risky behaviour. Like when you’re feeling down and you drive home dangerously fast or go out and get drunk. Now a team led by Thomas Webb at the University of Sheffield says that we can protect ourselves from this effect by forming ‘if-then’ implementation decisions in advance. These are self-made plans which state that if a certain situation occurs, then I will respond in a pre-specified way.

I’m no programmer but did develop this little snippet of self-help script… feel free to use it:

[IF] action = stupid [THEN] stop

A form of precognition perhaps?

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