The Right Person. The Right Advice.

How Surrogation Improves Decision Making


Theorum 1

Humans are poor predictors.

Humans are poor predictors of the future, even if that future is our own. When processes or outcomes are unclear, we tend to make poor judgments about goal-oriented decisions. Without frameworks to guide decision making, we flounder. Surrogation is the theory that we harness environmental information - whether it's as intuitive as behavioral cues or as formal as language - from our surroundings to inform our behavior.  This isn't a new phenomenon; a 1981 paper observes how surrogation guides infant neuropsychology through observational study of newborns. Even in our early twenties, our pre-frontal cortex's capability for executive function (e.g. rational decision making) is still not fully developed due to lack of experience. All this to say, we could use some help when deciding our futures.


theorum 2

Experience is better than guessing.

Leading Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert wrote an essay titled Pleasure by Proxy in Harvard Magazine back in 2010. In it, he describes surrogation in more modern terms, "consulting the experience of another person, a surrogate, in deciding whether something will make you happy." People's experiences, especially those who have already walked in your shoes, are powerful indicators for what would happen to you. In a 2009 issue of the journal Science, a study titled The Surprising Power of Neighborly Advice that measured student's emotional reactions reads, "Undergraduates made more accurate predictions about their affective reactions to a 5-minute speed date (n = 25) and to a peer evaluation (n = 88) when they knew only how another undergraduate had reacted to these events than when they had information about the events themselves. Both participants and independent judges mistakenly believed that predictions based on information about the event would be more accurate than predictions based on information about how another person had reacted to it."

Written another way, you're more accurately self-aware if someone helps make you aware first. We think that's a potent idea; so potent, that we dialed it up with data.


theorum 3

Matching improves outcomes.

To summarize, we have a biologically hardwired need for guidance in uncertain situations because we're terrible on our own. When this guidance comes from someone who has already experienced what we are about to, we make better decisions for ourselves. We decided to enhance this with data - by cross-matching you with an adviser over 50 different data points, we optimize the surrogation process. Thus, someone who is very similar to you, who has already reached the goal you seek, imparting advice becomes exponentially more valuable. All the while, you enjoy that much more success.