Friday, April 08, 2016

Of models and mind maps

I'm an analyst by profession. One of the things that I do is to try and predict a certain behavior using a combination of variables. Eg, can I say that someone will buy product x if they do a,b and c? What are all the things which can affect an end outcome? How do we influence the factors to get a desired result?

These are some of the questions that I try to answer time and again. Now, today, I was trying to come up with a model to predict behavior when I realized that our state of mind can also be modeled. I mean, it's going to be far more complex, but the concept is the same.

At any given point in time, multiple factors affect our state of mind. We're happy or sad or whatever depending on different things. Parking a car delights me while something someone said puts me off. If I assign equal value to both the factors, my mind set can actually be neutral. The high compensated for the low. A healthy mix of actions can help me maintain a balance. That is, if I knew all the things that have an influence on my mind.

Unfortunately, things aren't so simple, because there are derived variables. Things which seem inconsequential by themselves but which affect a host of things. Not eating orange seems inconsequential, but the lack of vitamin c due to that, causes blisters which pain and keep preventing me from focusing on anything else.
How many such small things are there? Given long enough, taking into account lifestyle, emotions, relationships and financials, can I actually build a model to predict the state of mind of a person, a group of people or even a nation?

Is it possible to influence it? Or do we already know what are the things that are part of the secret sauce for contentment? I can only theorize.

I think we all know the factors which influence our emotions. We still persist with a negative behavior, because some part of us is hoping it can be that curved ball that gives joy though it's meant to destroy everything in its path. Is optimism actually a bad thing? Or is this just sadism?

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