Scientists have officially measured and documented the “Blissful Ignorance Effect,”1 which describes the way consumers’ goals shift after they’ve made purchases. Before choosing a particular item, the research showed that people were picky about, and interested in, product information. After they had made their choice, however, participants in the study wanted to be happy with their decision and therefore no longer wanted to hear much about it.
Is it possible that this effect applies not only to product choices, but to worldview choices as well? What if, once a basic viewpoint is adopted—say, whether or not to believe in God or the Bible—an individual becomes less interested in researching his or her choice and focuses more on reinforcing it?
If this does apply, certain inferences present themselves. First, for those who have decided on matters such as creation, evolution, or some odd mixture of the two, it would seem wise for them to work harder—given their tendency toward “blissful ignorance”—to learn some of the cons of their position as well as the pros. In this way, they can better understand the ramifications and merits of what they believe to be true.
Also, if people are more interested in the details prior to making a choice, and since most major worldview choices are made when they are young, it would follow that quality education of children and adolescents—complete with cogent, balanced, personalized presentations of the fundamental issues underlying the varying belief options—would be especially critical.
Perhaps this is what God had in mind when He gave His people the Shema`:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.2
Perhaps the One who created humanity gave such careful instructions regarding the teaching of children because He knows that once people make up their minds, changing them is the harder task—even if it is toward the truth.
- Blissfully Ignorant: Skip Those Pesky Details. Journal of Consumer Research press release, September 15, 2008, regarding the upcoming publication of “The Blissful Ignorance Effect: Pre- versus Post-Action Effects on Outcome Expectancies Arising from Precise and Vague Information” by H. Mishra, B. Shiv, and D. Nayakankuppam in the December 2008 edition of Journal of Consumer Research.
- Deuteronomy 6:4-7.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.
Article posted on September 22, 2008.