Dr. Emre Soyer Masterclass in Munich „The Dark Side of Experience“

Written by Xiansu Chen ( MBA´15D)

On 23rd July, 2019 Emre Soyer’s (PhD) masterclass “The Dark Side of Experiences” took place in Munich. The title of the speech was a candidate of his soon-to-published book.
Emre Soyer started with the recent tennis match between Federer and Nadal and took this as a scene where instant feedback is available as the player gets to see the reaction of the ball and occasionally also from his coach. However, this is not always the case in everyday life, especially when it comes to complex decision making. Since we do not get immediate response, we tend to resort to our past experiences. This can lead to biases, blind spots or even hurdles to make an informed and wise decision. Thus, it is advisable to be particularly careful about experiences. Knowing where these come from is a good start.
Emre Soyer illustrated with lots of examples from his work and research the dark side of experiences along four chapters from his book: freedom (Many options have been deliberately omitted or emphasized to influence our decision-making process. In that sense the degree of freedom is rather limited), creativity (e.g. How to calm down people when a flight gets delayed? a guy dressed as a pilot telling they have to wait helped more than any other information or compensation), causality (he introduced the concept of base rate. If the base rate is low, it is more about the luck, about being at the right place at the right time. We won’t be able to conclude with insight what really caused the difference) and happiness (things that I don’t want and don’t have either) An engaging and interactive lecture, in which he managed to give us within a short period of time pills (base rate) as well as big ideas to gauge our perception of the world more objectively. Knowing where the dark side resides and why it is there certainly will help to be more aware of the pitfalls, be more creative and most important of all, make better decisions that can lead to more happiness. Over time the data that everybody collects, interprets and applies will reinforce intuition.
One take away from his class was a graph that really was food for thought and laugh at the same time. In the graph there were only four types of things in the world, things that I want but don’t have; things that I want and do have; things that I don’t want but have; things that I don’t want and don’t have either. Emre explained that people tend to focus too much on the first type. However, a dirty workaround to get a little bit happier is just to think a little more about the last type: things that I don’t want and don’t have either. I tried it personally and it worked like wonder.
Oh, one last piece of recommendation from Emre Soyer is the movie Money Ball, which I will watch some time.