For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an introspective person. I’ve always been very conscious of my consciousness, that “voice in my head” that tells me what’s right from wrong, good from bad, etc. (please excuse my use of Descartes’ dualism just this once). Anyway, as a result of my recent introspection, I realized I often subconsciously calculate the “net worth” of my actions (before I act). I thought about what I actual consider when I calculate said “net worth,” which tumulted into a week-long discussion in my head about what contributes to net worth. AND SO, I present you a lovely visual of what I settled on:
Ta-da! This is the diagram. I guess I’ll describe what’s going on:
X-AXIS: Net Gain or Loss
Will the action be beneficial or harmful? How much is there to gain? Or is there nothing to lose? I decided that this is very important when it comes to deciding net worth.
Y-AXIS: Net Safety or Risk
Does doing the action require putting your life on the line? Obviously, actions that are SO risky should not be taken.
Ultimately, if an action falls in quadrant I, it should be taken. If it falls in quadrant 3, it should not be taken. Actions that end up in quadrants II and IV should be decided based on their precise location on the graph, whichever direction they are most positive in. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that the consequences of an action should be considered from MULTIPLE standpoints. Is an action risky for your peers? Will your friends lose more than you? In my opinion, net worth is multi-faceted and needs to be calculated multiple times in order to be even remotely accurate.
Often times, when the action is so far in one direction, the weight of the other axis can be disregarded. For example, if something is SO safe, it may not matter if something is lost with the action. OR if anything, the loss will persuade you from not doing the action at all.
We also see that Loss/Risk and Gain/Safety have some relation to each other. For example, something might be risky because there is so much to lose.
I guess one important thing to note is that if an action falls in the origin of the graph, it doesn’t necessarily mean it should be taken. I’d say most origin-actions could be classified as “useless” or not really having a pressing purpose. An example would be trolling someone, cracking a joke, or starting a conversation with a friend.
In all honesty, this diagram or something similar probably exists. I am still thinking through how I would precisely quantify loss/gain and risk/safety. I mean, the most accurate way would be to measure how the nucleus accumbens in the brain reacts (particularly for the gain/loss part of the spectrum) but unfortunately, I do not have an MRI scanner at my disposal to test that out. And to be quite honest, this diagram is probably too flawed to even be accurate. BUT I guess if you ever find yourself in a bind, you could try referencing it!
I hope you enjoy this tiny insight of what goes on in my head (which I rarely share). Cheers!