Hot Stove Effect and Why We Need to Be Brave

The Hot Stove effect best illustrated with a story,

A cat jumps to a stove, the stove is hot, the cat doesn’t know it’s hot, the cat can’t tell the difference, it doesn’t even know that there’s a difference

The cat got burned.

So now, the cat learn to Never jump to a stove

This could be good, but this could also be bad

Since the stove is not always hot.

One day, the cat might really need to jump to that stove, and that stove is cold most of the time, but the cat don’t wanna jump since the last time it jump, it got burn, Never again, the cat says

That’s the story, and this effect was first introduced by Mark Twain (source:

Now, the funny thing is, human act like the cat almost all the time, all the time, we hear the expression “i’ve been burned”, “been burned once, not again”

Get rejected by a girl, freaked out with all girl

Choose to date one bad guy, all guy are the same

Not successful in school, believe that he is destined for mediocrity

Take the risk of standing up and then humiliated down, never to stand up again

One bad data sample is being mistaken as the norm

Like the cat, we don’t know that there’s a difference, the situation looks the same, the actors the same, how can the result be so painful, such a deep sting.

We say “no more”

Then when the same situation with similar actors are presented to us, we say “no more”

Yet, and ironically, the only way to find out whether this time things will be different, is by plunging it, try it out, wing it,

Take the risk.

Got rejected once? go ahead, do it again and take the risk, it could be different this time

Got humiliated once? go ahead, the last time you just got unlucky and met a jerk

Our experience can say no to the things that expand our self and bring us nearer to our dream

Some past experience are so emotional and intense that it leaves a mark in our heart and a barrier of safety in our brain

The only way to find out whether this time, next time, we will have a different experience in doing the things that we think will bring is happiness

is to try it out

Not because our heart says yes, because our heart is so scared; not because our brain said yes, because it learn from the (only) experience it has

But because we choose to be brave, and jump again to the stove


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