I Don’t Want to Know: With Guests Amelia Boone & Emily Ho

September 28, 2020
Have you ever ignored unpleasant information, hoping it would just go away?

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After you listen

Often the best thing to do with your portfolio when it’s suffered losses really is nothing at all, if it still aligns with your goals and risk tolerance. It’s not a matter of avoiding information—but of learning to look beyond the latest headlines and to evaluate financial decisions with all the relevant information.

Often the best thing to do with your portfolio when it’s suffered losses really is nothing at all, if it still aligns with your goals and risk tolerance. It’s not a matter of avoiding information—but of learning to look beyond the latest headlines and to evaluate financial decisions with all the relevant information.

For some people, the check engine light on their car dashboard means an immediate trip to the repair shop. But for others, it represents a nagging unpleasant feeling that’s best to be avoided. So they put it out of their mind for as long as they can.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we examine the tendency to avoid or ignore certain information when it may be uncomfortable or inconvenient.

Amelia Boone is a high achiever. Within a short time of taking up the grueling sport of obstacle course racing, she was winning world championships. At the top of her game, she went looking for other challenges, and eventually took up ultra-running—where athletes compete in races longer than marathons, sometimes as long as 100 miles! Again, Amelia quickly rose to the upper echelons of this elite club of athletes.

But then the injuries began. You’ll hear about Amelia’s attitude of pushing through the pain and training harder—an attitude that nearly destroyed her athletic career. When her injuries finally sidelined her from racing, Amelia realized that she’d been ignoring a crucial aspect of her health.

Amelia Boone is an obstacle racer, ultra-runner, and attorney living in Colorado.

Next, Emily Ho joins Katy to talk about the science behind this tendency to avoid certain types of information. She explains how the phenomenon impacts investors, medical patients, and employees, and she illustrates the perils of ignoring uncomfortable facts.

Emily Ho is a research assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Department of Medical Social Sciences. You can read more about information avoidance in the research paper she co-authored with George Loewenstein and David Hagmann.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab.

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