Consumer Chew argues with Mr T over crabs

The most interesting idea in Who Am I? is that miscommunication results from different value profiles.

Say Consumer Chew is someone who has a poor savings desire while Mr T has a high savings desire.

Mr Chew greets Mr T amiably: “Mr T, you’ve just been promoted, won’t you treat us all to dinner?” Mr T’s smile lasts until “treat” is mentioned. He politely declines. “I’ve already taken my parents out for dimsum at Fullerton Hotel (I didn’t enjoy it that much honestly), and besides, I’m way past my budget this month”. Perhaps a good-natured argument ensues between the friends. Consumer Chew might even persuade Mr T to give the treat if he’s read Cialdini’s Influence. More often than not, especially if their savings desires tend towards the extreme, Mr T will not be persuaded, and Mr Chew might become puzzled at Mr T’s irrational behavior. This conflict between them is caused by their underlying assumptions, caused in turn, by their differing savings desire.

Consumer Chew thinks back to when he was promoted. He gladly treated everyone to crabs from the restaurant across the road, nevermind that it cost $150 for three crabs. After all, we should enjoy life, and don’t we deserve a treat for working so hard? Mr Chew thinks that Mr T is a cheap miser. Mr T thinks Consumer Chew is irresponsible. Mr T thinks he is fully within his rights to decline to treat because he is only being frugal and planning ahead. After all, his budget should never be violated.

Of course, other desires may also affect Mr T’s decision. Desires such as Independence (when Mr T saves money, it helps him achieve independence), Social Contact (Mr T might change his mind because he wants to enjoy Consumer Chew’s company), Eating (Mr T might love seafood) or Status (Mr T might use this opportunity to treat Consumer Chew at a nice restaurant to display his status).

In reality, it will not simply be one desire, but the clash of Consumer Chew’s and Mr T’s desire profiles that cause the disagreement between them. How does one mediate between the two if we assume that desire profiles cannot be changed easily?

saving thinks of self thinks of other
saver frugal,thrifty,planning ahead irresponsible,living for today, wasteful
spender enjoying life, deserving miser,cheap,self-denying
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