Tesla Neuroeconomics

An episode on the PBS Newshour from about two weeks ago featured a story about Neuroeconomics.  A lot of brain research today is studying where our brain lights up during different events.  A lot of current thinking (which I think is way too simplistic) is that our brain completely controls our actions, and if we pinpoint everything down to a particular neuron location, we will solve many of humanity’s problems. Since this blog is not about philosophy or neuroscience and about Teslas, I’ll leave my extensive studies of these other subjects aside.

The segment discusses “Why We Crave What Is Cool” and how we buy things based upon social status.  At one point in the video they go to a Tesla showroom in Pasadena, and the reporter says:

PAUL SOLMAN: Owning a Tesla says, I’m a well-heeled environmentalist, a Volvo, I care about safety.

Yes, perhaps a Tesla does make this statement.  I bought Tesla far before the general public knew about Tesla, and I simply wanted an electric car driven off my solar panels with a range more than 50 miles round trip.  Other Tesla owners have a variety of reasons for buying a Tesla such as fabulous performance.

Only in the last year or so now that Tesla has become well known has it become somewhat of a status symbol.  I always question why these researchers often assume such simplistic brains and simplistic motivations behind car purchase decisions.  Perhaps many of us really do not care about our social status.

Side note:  In the United States today, there is a dearth of quality news reporting in media or in print. I generally respect the PBS Newshour for balanced reporting with decent world coverage and some interesting stories.  I have to admit, I record the episodes, often watch them days later and fast forward through a lot of stories particularly about politics.


2 thoughts on “Tesla Neuroeconomics

  1. Liked your post and one thing that’s missed in my opinion in the media is the “power to the consumer” element with Tesla owners and electric car owners, as it relates to global warming. There’s a certain helplessness with people (consumers) that understand what happened in the 20th century (massive mfg) and know we’re on a unsustainable path. They couldn’t really do anything about it, until now.

    I think that’s why you see EVs as the “gateway drug” to solar ownership. More power to the consumer and that’s a dangerous thing for those in the fossil fuel racket.

    But, of course, there’s a status thing around Tesla ownership too.

    • Interesting thoughts Grant!

      The power to the consumer idea is there. We often do feel powerless especially with the current state of childish politics. But part of me also thinks we are each part of the solution / problem even in small ways.

      I’m also a hiker and sometimes backpacker. The “leave no trace” is a strong message in the wilderness. Even though it is really impossible to completely “leave no trace” in daily life, it is a good goal environmentally speaking.

      Here in California, a lot of people buy solar before an EV, but we are in an ideal climate for that. But the “gateway drug” analogy could apply well for other climates.

      I agree status needs exist for a lot of people but I don’t think it is nearly the driving force that researchers seems to think it is. They are probably taking Maslow’s hierarchical needs too simplistically. Okay, so your fed and clothed, now the only thing you care about is status. Or perhaps that is what a lot of researchers care about.

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