When we believe beforehand that something will be good (for ex. food or a movie) generally, it will be good. And when we think it will be bad, usually it is bad. To prove this theory two professors (from the book Predictably Irrational) set up a coffee shop & gave out free coffee to any student willing to answer a few questions like; How much they liked the coffee? Should it be served in the cafeteria? What is the maximum price they would pay?
For the first experiment they used Styrofoam cups for the coffee & they put the cream & sugar in a ripped up cup labeled with a handwritten note. Then, with the same coffee, they used silver cups on silver tray with cream & sugar in beautiful containers with silver spoons & nicely printed labels. Guess which coffee was much more likely to taste good, draw a higher price & be recommended to be served in the cafeteria? The coffee with the fancy set up, of course. This shows that expectations can influence our reasoning. Our brain cannot start from scratch at every new situation so it must build on what it has seen before. That’s called stereotype, which is a way of categorizing information in the hope of predicting experiences.
For example, according to stereotype, men are better at math than women. And Asians are better at math than other nationalities. For the next experiment Asian women were put into 2 groups to take a math exam. The first group had discussions about gender-related issues like long restroom lines and buying dresses. The second group had discussions related to race like language and the geography of Asia. Is it surprising that the second group performed better. They were subconsciously reminded that they were Asians & therefore good at math. So, our own behavior can be influenced by our current state of mind even though we're not aware of it.
For another example, one group of participants completed a scrambled-sentence task using words such as aggressive, rude, annoying, & intrude. The second group used words such as honor, considerate, polite, & sensitive. The researchers are trying to get the participants to think about politeness or rudeness without them knowing it. After they completed the scrambled-sentence task they went to another room to supposedly do a second task. What they saw was an experimenter apparently in the midst of trying to explain a task to a participant who wasn’t getting it. They were both actors playing along. Which group do you think waited the longest before interrupting the experimenter? The polite word group waited 9.3 minutes, while the rude word group waited only 5.5 minutes. Our attitude can be influenced by ideas someone else puts in our mind.
For the last example they used the same scrambled-sentence task, but now they wanted them to think about the elderly so they used words such as Florida, bingo, & ancient. After they supposedly finished the task the group walked down the hallway & stairs, when the real experiment took place. You see the “elderly” word group walked considerably slower than the other groups.
Can you see what affects our reasoning? Expectations, stereotypes, & ideas people put into our minds. And what can our reasoning affect? Tastes, performance, attitude, & physical traits. Without us even realizing it. The following verses are from Matthew 17.
24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25 “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?” 26 “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
Catch a fish with money in it's mouth! Whoever heard of such a thing? I wonder if Peter is going to walk by Jesus’ instruction or by his own reasoning? When the story ends the miracle is up to Peter. Too many of us have a completed story without a miracle because we follow our fickle human reasoning instead of Jesus instruction.