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Decision making and biases

Decision making and biases

Experts have known for a while that our decision-making processes are flawed — and often in predictable ways. We easily succumb to all sorts of biases that prevent us from making smart choices.

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MORE IDEAS FROM THE SAME ARTICLE

When it comes to decisions, conduct whatever research you need to and make your estimate — and then go through the whole thing again, generating a second estimate. Take the average of the two estimates, and you’ll likely make a better decision than you would if you used either on its own. 

For a wide range of decisions involving self-restraint, there’s pretty overwhelming evidence that most people are bad at making healthy in-the-moment choices.

Decide well in advance of the moment when those decisions will take effect. Present You, at the supermarket after a me...

A common decision-making problem is failing to have enough imagination with regards to what could go wrong or falling victim to simple overconfidence. 

Envision the future. There’s evidence that this exercise can broaden your outlook and highlight problems that might not come to ...

When it comes to situations where the benefits of a good decision lie in the future (reduced weight) but compelling temptations to make bad decisions are all too present (nachos), writing down a specific plan of attack can be helpful. 
It can help decision-makers avoid f...

... when you're hungry, or sleepy, or angry.

Research has shown that our susceptibility to bias increases when we’re stressed, whether because of exhaustion, hunger, or a heightened emotional state.

Delaying a crucial decision, if possible, might be pre...

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Do some math

You make one decision, wait, make a second decision, and then make a compromise between the two.

Averaging the two judgments tends to outperform trying to identify the better of the two, because answers based on different pools of evidence often bracket with the truth, and because pe...

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Bias is everywhere

Being aware of your own biases doesn't mean you will be free of them. You need a system that will help prevent your proclivities from taking control.

Rather refer to bias as "predictable mistakes" that people make when planning. For instance, getting anchored o...

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Make Better Choices

  • Seek good information. Be skeptic and never just assume that what you’re being told is always true.
  • Avoid common pitfalls, like making decisions without enough time or information.
  • Look at previous mistakes so you learn from them.
  • Check in with yo...

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