Ainslie argues that our responses to the threat of our own inconsistency determine the basic fabric of human culture. He suggests that individuals are more like populations of bargaining agents than like the hierarchical command structures envisaged by cognitive psychologists. This perspective helps us understand so much that is puzzling in human action and interaction: from self-defeating behaviors to willfulness, from pathological over-control and self-deception to subtler forms of behavior such as altruism, sadism, gambling, and the "social construction" of belief.
User Ratings and Reviews
5 Stars Fascinating!
Breakdown of Will is an interesting and thought provoking book on the effect that hyperbolic discounting of valuation has on psychology and self control. Ainslie shows how his theory of picoeconomics and intrapersonal bargaining can shed light on phenomena such as willfulness,personal inconsistency,addiction and many other things that are difficult to explain via other theories. Highly recommended for anyone interested in psychology and philosophy of mind.
5 Stars Very interesting
Not going to go into all the details, but this is a very good book. Quickly – I was reading Daniel Dennett's "Freedom Evolves" (another good book if not the best writing)and saw Ainslie's book mentioned multiple times in interesting ways and it piqued my interest. So I got this book and was glad I did. His theories about "hyperbolic discounting" and intertemporal bargaining are very interesting and plausible in terms of explaining some strange behaviors such as addictions – how is it that we can do what we know to be wrong? (e.g. breaking a promise to self, gamblers who keep taking risk until they lose despite knowing if they keep betting forever they will lose everything, etc.). Is addiction a mistake or a preference? I recommend this book for anyone interested in these kind of questions and prepared to read a fairly challening book.