Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Science of Making Decisions - Newsweek

The Science of Making Decisions - Newsweek
    • If emotions are shut out of the decision-making process, we're likely to overthink a decision, and that has been shown to produce worse outcomes on even the simplest tasks.
      • trying to drink from a firehose of information has harmful cognitive effects. And nowhere are those effects clearer, and more worrying, than in our ability to make smart, creative, successful decisions.
        • Creative decisions are more likely to bubble up from a brain that applies unconscious thought to a problem, rather than going at it in a full-frontal, analytical assault
          • If you let things come at you all the time, you can't use additional information to make a creative leap or a wise judgment," says Cantor. "You need to pull back from the constant influx and take a break
            • In contrast, a constant focus on the new makes it harder for information to percolate just below conscious awareness, where it can combine in ways that spark smart decisions.
              • There is a powerful 'recency' effect in decision making. We pay a lot of attention to the most recent information, discounting what came earlier."
                • We're fooled by immediacy and quantity and think it's quality
                  • The Art of Choosing
                    • It isn't only the quantity of information that knocks the brain for a loop; it's the rate. The ceaseless influx trains us to respond instantly, sacrificing accuracy and thoughtfulness to the false god of immediacy.
                      • Whoa! Think! 
                    • First, when people see that there is a lot of complex information relevant to a decision, "they default to the conscious system,"
                    • Even experts become anxious and mentally exhausted. In fact, the more information they try to absorb, the fewer of the desired items they get and the more they overpay or make critical errors.
                      • Maybe you were this close to choosing a college, when suddenly older friends swamped your inbox with all the reasons to go somewhere else—which made you completely forget why you'd chosen the other school. 
                      • Experts advise dealing with emails and texts in batches, rather than in real time; that should let your unconscious decision-making system kick in. Avoid the trap of thinking that a decision requiring you to assess a lot of complex information is best made methodically and consciously; you will do better, and regret less, if you let your unconscious turn it over by removing yourself from the info influx. Set priorities: if a choice turns on only a few criteria, focus consciously on those. Some people are better than others at ignoring extra information. These "sufficers" are able to say enough: they channel-surf until they find an acceptable show and then stop, whereas "maximizers" never stop surfing, devouring information, and so struggle to make a decision and move on. 

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