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Investigating Indecision: Why We Can't Seem to Make Up Our Minds

https://blog.trello.com/indecision-why-we-cant-make-up-our-minds

blog.trello.com

Investigating Indecision: Why We Can't Seem to Make Up Our Minds
Should you take the job with the higher pay, but longer commute? What's the best way to prioritize your too-long list of tasks ? How much time should you give a struggling relationship before calling it quits?

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The 37%

Mathematics dictates that you should take 37% of the time or options you have to simply look and after that, you should commit to the first option that is better than everything you’ve seen so far.

That’s the point at which you have the highest chance—in a display of mathematical symmetry, it’s a 37% chance—of making the best choice.

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The brain when we make decisions

The 2 systems of the brain that wok during decision making:

  • System 1 is automatic and quick (like "something feeling off").
  • System 2 is deliberate and slow (like an algorithm).

At times, these systems are at odds with each other, but research shows it's always best to trust an algorithm than your own gut.

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Pros-and-cons lists are flawed

There are a few biases they don't address:

  • Narrow framing: the tendency to view an option as your only option.
  • Confirmation bias: our tendency to gather the information that supports our preferred option.
  • Short-term emotion: our tendency to have our judgment clouded when emotions run high.
  • Overconfidence: our tendency to make a decision with too much optimism about how things will play out.

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The WRAP technique for decision making

  • Widen your options: challenge yourself to consider alternatives. 
  • Reality-test your assumptions: run small experiments so you can know rather than predict which decision will work best for you.
  • Attain distance before deciding with the try the 10/10/10 approach: How would you feel about this decision 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now, and 10 years from now?
  • Prepare to be wrong: things could always go wrong. Prepare for it in advance.

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Avoid making bad snap decisions

  • Successful decision-making relies on a balance between deliberate and intuitive thinking.
  • Opt for less information; stick to only what is essential. We may feel more confident when doing a lot of research, but this could lead to indecision and analysis paralysis.

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Making snap judgments

Snap judgments are most accurate if these things are present: experience and expertise. In other words, we must train our intuition.

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Actively managing delay

  • Find out how much time you have to make the decision.
  • Wait as long as possible to choose. By giving yourself extra time, you have more opportunities to explore your options and gain valuable insight.

This works best if you're a novice, as an expert generally won’t need to delay a decision.

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Deciding how to decide

Take into considerations these things:

  • Intuition is best used by experts, not novices.
  • Algorithms are better at decisions than the human brain.
  • Take your time (but not too much of it). 

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Good decisions

Good decisions

To make good decisions, we generally need to do the following:

  • Identify the decision: recognizing the need to make a decision, and identifying what that decision inv...

Why people struggle with decision making

  • The main reason why decision-making is hard is that every decision makes us go through a process that is most times difficult and complex, and having difficulties with any part of it can hinder the whole process.
  • The emotional difficulty that we face when we need to pick only one of multiple possible options means that we have to forego several alternatives that we may find appealing. This is associated with the concept of FOMO (the fear of missing out).
  • The decision-making process can be very demanding, from a cognitive and an emotional perspective. Also, the act of making a decision is tiring in itself, since it depletes the cognitive resources.
  • Being tired and sleep-deprived can make it more difficult for us to process information, and more likely for us to suffer from various cognitive biases that get in the way of making good decisions.

Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz

“The existence of multiple alternatives makes it easy for us to imagine alternatives that don’t exist—alternatives that combine the attractive features of the ones that do exist. And to the extent that we engage our imaginations in this way, we will be even less satisfied with the alternative we end up choosing. So… a greater variety of choices actually makes us feel worse.”

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The Freedom of Choice

The freedom of choice is generally perceived to be good, but studies show that too much choice can be a hindrance and can impede the decision.

On the contrary, having fewer choices has shown ...

Fear of Better Options

... or Maximization, is a behavioral trait that makes us look for all possible options before we decide so that we don't miss out on the best option and regret later, after making the decision.

We take into consideration all available options to minimize our frustration and stress.

Maximizers vs Satisficers

  • Maximizers feel less satisfied even if they make better decisions, since they had so much choice, and choosing the best comes down to some sort of compromise.
  • Satisficers: They are the people that make quick decisions with fewer options and that tend to be more satisfied.

Information that matches our beliefs

We surround ourselves with it: We tend to like people who think like us; if we agree with someone's beliefs, we're more likely to be friends with them.

This makes sense, but it means ...

The "swimmer's body illusion"

It's a thinking mistake and it occurs when we confuse selection factors with results. 

Professional swimmers don't have perfect bodies because they train extensively. Rather, they are good swimmers because of their physiques.

The sunk cost fallacy

It plays on this tendency of ours to emphasize loss over gain.

The term sunk cost refers to any cost that has been paid already and cannot be recovered. The reason we can't ignore the cost, even though it's already been paid, is that we're wired to feel loss far more strongly than gain.