“He screwed up, so I yelled at him, then he started doing better!”

You’ve been on both sides of this conversation. One person is moralizing, and the other pragmatizing.

You’re hoping I give you the comeback here, right? What’s the truth when it comes to yelling or hitting? It clearly causes an adjustment of the other’s behavior, so how can we discourage it?

Step back from the moral argument, and even the behavioral argument.

Let’s talk statistics!

Regression toward the mean. It’s everywhere!

You took some medicine for a minor illness and then you got better!

But… You would have gotten better anyway, right?

Look around you. Everything is like that.

Take anything that typically performs ok, yell at it (or do absolutely anything else) when it underperforms, and watch as it magically responds to your intervention!

This farnum street blog is a good resource to learn more. And of course anything from Kahneman should be taken seriously.

Examples of things you can yell at and expect improvement:

  • Yell at the sky when the bus is super late! It probably won’t be as late in the future.
  • Yell at the server when your food comes out wrong. You’ll find future orders more likely to be on par!
  • Yell at the internet when it gets slow. It will return to normal!

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