This is an exceperpt from the transcript of a class I gave in narrative psychology…
When two things being different is a good thing, you don’t want to hang a picture to a wall with another picture, you want to hang a picture to a wall with a nail. When there is something that you would like to have, but you don’t have it yet, that can be a bad thing or a good thing. If it is something you are looking forward to and the joy of anticipating it, because you really expect to get it, and you don’t see anything that could step in your way — Like Christmas morning, you look forward to it, and it becomes a joyous experience in anticipating, or perhaps a movie that you know is opening on Friday and you want to go see it, and you’ve been anticipating it because you’ve been hearing about it. So, here’s something you want that you don’t yet have, and yet that’s positive, because it’s something that you expect to get, and it’s not causing you any negative ramifications now, because you don’t have it.
In other words, things now are good. Things with that would be better. You expect to get that thing, and therefore, there’s no way that it could be seen as negative, because you expect to get it within a reasonable amount of time, that you would feel not like you’ve been anticipating it for so long that it was negative, because you look forward to it and look forward to it, and you look forward to it, like a career in the movie business, and it never happens. Well, that begins to get negative after a while, because you keep waiting and it doesn’t come. So, waiting for something for a very long time can be a positive thing, like getting a degree in college. Yes, you’d like it, but it can be very positive, because part of the excitement is in earning it, and every time you are making progress, you can sense that you have gotten closer to it, because there are a certain number of requirements to achieve. It has an optionlock, and with an optionlock, you can say that when I’ve taken this course, and this course, then they give me the degree. So, you can chart it off, and see your progress.
The real key here is not just saying there is this arbitrary amount of time that makes it positive or negative, but again, it’s another way of measuring the difference. The difference between how big the reward is, and how long it’s going to take to get. So, already, we have shifted our perspective. Originally, we just said inequity is a balance between two things when they are out of balance, or when they are different. Inequity exists between them. It doesn’t make one better or worse than the other, it just means they are not in equilibrium. That can be a good thing or a bad thing.
But, now you have to go a step farther than those two steps and say how do we determine what’s good or bad. Well, now we have to go a step farther than those two steps, and say how do we determine it’s good or bad. And now we have to weigh things against each other and say here’s the benefit I will get from it, which makes me anticipate it. Here’s the length of time I have to wait for it, which delays it. And so, the positive aspects of anticipating it, because of the size of it’s rewards, and the costs I have to pay at how long it takes to get there – to wait for it, those two are played against each other, and we see it as a positive experience or a negative experience. So, if it’s a great big reward, and there’s little waiting time, it’s a very positive experience, than a great big reward, and a long waiting time, it can get neutral or even negative. If it’s a little reward, and a little waiting period, it can be very positive. If it’s a little reward and a long waiting time, it can be very negative. So, it’s just a matter of balancing the size of the reward with the time we wait.
Read the complete transcript here.