Change is inevitable ! Is it ?

03 Apr

This idea just cropped up on reading Mano’s latest blog and some of the comments. One of the questions that I’m interested in is does behavior change because of certain events. For instance, let us consider an analogy from one of my favourite subjects, political science. Can we ask the question did US foreign policy change after 9/11? If the answer is yes then how do we measure it? For measurement we must resort to causal empiricism (anecdotal observations vs. scientific evidence). For this example there are hardly any practical difficulties. We can collect data on foreign policy and statistically analyze it to provide scientific evidence (which is the harder part).

Now to the issue of interest. Does the behavior (defined as broadly as possible) of couples change when they have children? Again if we are to resort to causal empricism as our basis, what would the answer be? While anecdotal evidence suggests that this should be the case, is there scientific evidence for the same? How do we measure if behavior actually changed or not? Difficult questions but could prove to be useful. For instance consider a nested question within the broad theme. Has risk taking behavior of couples changed after they have children? If the scientific evidence is yes, then insurance companies can use targeted advertising on this group to their benefit (just thinking aloud and it is quite possible that they are already doing this). But it is quite possible that risk taking behavior did not change. It could just be that while this might be common perception, in reality, there might be no change. What if there was a change but it was in the opposite direction? What if people wanted to take greater risks (theoretically possible).

To me what is interesting is how do we generate scientific evidence to answer this question. Can we design an experiment to observe the changes in behavior if any (that should be scientific evidence for sure).

Any thoughts????


Posted by on April 3, 2007 in From AM-KICKING blog


5 responses to “Change is inevitable ! Is it ?

  1. Mindframes

    April 4, 2007 at 12:28 am

    Interesting… As you pointed out, I do think scientific evidence is a harder… My observation is that the scope and context of the statistics that results in a scientific conclusion is often criticized…

    I have read somewhere that personalities are set, but behaviours do change based on the constraints. But then, interpreting the right constraints for the right results is key. For example, I would say that, raising a kid, or for that matter, getting married is a very risky decision…;)… But then, one could argue that, the act of such decisions by itself is a proof for their risk taking abilities..:)… I think life is like a tcp session… One doubles their sliding window of greed/risk everytime they can accomodate it. But, when things dont work out, their window of greed/risk reduces and achieves optimality…:)

  2. Manohar

    April 4, 2007 at 2:37 am

    @mindframes: wow man! that tcp sliding window example was beautiful. Now tell me the truth- where did u bit adichify the example?

  3. Mad Max

    April 4, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    @ Mano and Mindframes; What is the TCP sliding rule???

  4. Mindframes

    April 4, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    @mano: Ennudayadhu..Ennudayadhu…Ennudayadhu dhaan iyaa…:)

    @mad-max: In networking, there is a transmission protocol called TCP. The fundamental idea is to maximize data transfer rate by a sender when the end-to-end bandwidth is unknown. The sender sends X bytes and waits for an acknowledgment. If nothing got dropped, it sends 2X bytes in the next transfer and so on. If something got dropped, it tries to half (there are different implementations) the number of bytes it sends and so on till the data gets sent. This is a greedy way for the sender to maximize the data transfer rate over the internet and is commonly called sliding window mechanism.

  5. sdpal

    April 4, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    after your explanation, your first comment is more understandable now and Wow!

    @madmax: Behaviour change is inevitable because of certain events (whether it may be getting married or foreign policy or having kids). If there is no behaviour change, then something is going to blow up sooner or later (i.e., the effects can be seen on the marriage or kids life/personality or someone attacking again). Scientific evidence ? I have no idea, how that can be generated. Anyhow, what your point in, generating scientific evidence ? What to do with that ? (as it cannot be generalized, as the behavior can change broadly depending upon the situation and personality etc)


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