Joey comments on Empirical data on value drift - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 23 April 2018 11:01:37PM 5 points [-]

Do you have any opinion on the role of community or social ties in preventing value drift in addition to individualized commitment mechanisms, like the GWWC Pledge.

Comment author: Joey 24 April 2018 04:53:53PM 3 points [-]

Social ties seem quite important, particularly close ones (best friends, partners, close co-workers).

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 26 April 2018 06:27:10AM *  8 points [-]

The social circle thing might interact in an interesting way with the apparently common insecurity of not being "EA enough". Suppose I think of myself as an EA, but due to random life fluctuation I find myself not being "EA enough" for some time. This makes me feel like an imposter at EA events, which makes me go to them less, which decreases my social ties to other EAs, which decreases my motivation for EA work, which makes me do less EA work, which makes me feel like more of an imposter at EA events. This feedback loop theory suggests that drifting out of EA social circles and having ones values drift are often intertwined phenomena.

Of course, that's just a guess. It seems like it would be valuable to get some anonymized stories from ex-EAs to see what is really going on.

Anyway, I think commenting on forums like this one can be good. Reading what other EAs are working on gets me excited about EA stuff, and leaving comments is a low-effort way to feel helpful. I don't typically feel like an imposter when I do this, because it usually seems like sharing my perspective would be valuable even if I was a complete non-EA.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 24 April 2018 06:57:06PM 1 point [-]

What's your impression of how positively correlated close social ties are with staying altruistic among those individuals you surveyed?

Comment author: DavidMoss  (EA Profile) 03 May 2018 08:12:59PM 8 points [-]

My anecdata is that it's very high, since people are heavily influenced by such norms and (imagined) peer judgement.

Cutting the other way, however, people who are brought into EA by such social effects (e.g. because they were hanging around friends who were EA, so they became involved in EA too rather than in virtue of having (always had) intrinsic EA belief and motivation) would be much more vulnerable to value drift once those social pressures change. I think this is behind a lot of cases of value drift I've observed.

When I was systematically interviewing EAs for a research project this distinction, between social-network EAs and always-intrinsic EAs was one of the clearest and most important distinctions that arose. I think one might imagine that social-network EAs would be disproportionately less involved, more peripheral members, whereas the always-intrinsic EAs would be more core, but actually the tendency was roughly the reverse. The social-network EAs were often very centrally positioned in higher staff positions within orgs, whereas the always-instrinsic EAs were often off independently doing whatever they thought was most impactful, without being very connected.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 03 May 2018 10:36:37PM 2 points [-]

It appears the best of both worlds might be to seed local EA presence where the initial social network is composed of individuals who were always intrinsically motivated by EA who were also friends. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the story behind many local EA communities which became well-organized independent of one another. Of course if this is the key to bringing together local EA presences as social networks which tend toward lower rates of value drift, the kind of data we're collecting so far won't be applicable to what we want to learn for long. The anecdata of EAs who have been in the community since before there was significant investment in and direction of movement growth won't be relevant when we're trying to systematize that effort in a goal-driven fashion. As EA enters another stage of organization as a movement, it's a movement structured fundamentally differently than how it organically emerged from a bunch of self-reflective do-gooders finding each other on the internet 5+ years ago.