We have found an IELTS reading simulation exercises--The Triumph of Unreason.
Reading Passage 1
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13 which are based onReading Passage1 below.
The Triumph of Unreason?
Neoclassical economics is built on the assumption that humans are rationalbeings who have a clear idea of their best interests and strive to extractmaximum benefit (or “utility”, in economist-speak) from any situation.Neoclassical economics assumes that the process of decision-making is rational.But that contradicts growing evidence that decision-making draws on theemotions—even when reason is clearly involved.接下来为大家介绍"分折雅思阅读模拟练习：The Triumph of Unreason"
雅思阅读模拟练习：The Triumph of Unreason
The role of emotions in decisions makes perfect sense. For situations metfrequently in the past, such as obtaining food and mates, and confronting orfleeing from threats, the neural mechanisms required to weigh up the pros andcons will have been honed by evolution to produce an optimal outcome. Sinceemotion is the mechanism by which animals are prodded towards such outcomes,evolutionary and economic theory predict the same practical consequences forutility in these cases. But does this still apply when the ancestral machineryhas to respond to the stimuli of urban modernity?
One of the people who thinks that it does not is George Loewenstein, aneconomist at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. In particular, hesuspects that modern shopping has subverted the decision-making machinery in away that encourages people to run up debt. To prove the point he has teamed upwith two psychologists, Brian Knutson of Stanford University and Drazen Prelecof the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to look at what happens in thebrain when it is deciding what to buy.
In a study, the three researchers asked 26 volunteers to decide whether tobuy a series of products such as a box of chocolates or a DVD of the televisionshow that were flashed on a computer screen one after another. In each round ofthe task, the researchers first presented the product and then its price, witheach step lasting four seconds. In the final stage, which also lasted fourseconds, they asked the volunteers to make up their minds. While the volunteerswere taking part in the experiment, the researchers scanned their brains using atechnique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This measuresblood flow and oxygen consumption in the brain, as an indication of itsactivity.
The researchers found that different parts of the brain were involved atdifferent stages of the test. The nucleus accumbens was the most active partwhen a product was being displayed. Moreover, the level of its activitycorrelated with the reported desirability of the product in question.
When the price appeared, however, fMRI reported more activity in otherparts of the brain. Excessively high prices increased activity in the insularcortex, a brain region linked to expectations of pain, monetary loss and theviewing of upsetting pictures. The researchers also found greater activity inthis region of the brain when the subject decided not to purchase an item.
Price information activated the medial prefrontal cortex, too. This part ofthe brain is involved in rational calculation. In the experiment its activityseemed to correlate with a volunteer's reaction to both product and price,rather than to price alone. Thus, the sense of a good bargain evoked higheractivity levels in the medial prefrontal cortex, and this often preceded adecision to buy.
People's shopping behaviour therefore seems to have piggy-backed on oldneural circuits evolved for anticipation of reward and the avoidance of hazards.What Dr Loewenstein found interesting was the separation of the assessment ofthe product (which seems to be associated with the nucleus accumbens) from theassessment of its price (associated with the insular cortex), even though thetwo are then synthesised in the prefrontal cortex. His hypothesis is that ratherthan weighing the present good against future alternatives, as orthodoxeconomics suggests happens, people actually balance the immediate pleasure ofthe prospective possession of a product with the immediate pain of paying forit.
That makes perfect sense as an evolved mechanism for trading. If one usefulobject is being traded for another (hard cash in modern time), the futureutility of what is being given up is embedded in the object being traded.Emotion is as capable of assigning such a value as reason. Buying on credit,though, may be different. The abstract nature of credit cards, coupled with thedeferment of payment that they promise, may modulate the “con” side of thecalculation in favour of the “pro”.
Whether it actually does so will be the subject of further experiments thatthe three researchers are now designing. These will test whether people withdistinctly different spending behaviour, such as miserliness and extravagance,experience different amounts of pain in response to prices. They will alsoassess whether, in the same individuals, buying with credit cards eases the paincompared with paying by cash. If they find that it does, then credit cards mayhave to join the list of things such as fatty and sugary foods, and recreationaldrugs, that subvert human instincts in ways that seem pleasurable at the timebut can have a long and malign aftertaste.
IELTS reading needs more practice.An article,The Triumph of Unreason, is not enough.We hope that the majority of candidates continue to work hard.
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