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Feb 13, 2009

Two new studies show that when it comes to making decisions, the trouble starts when we think too much.

By FLYP Staff

Every day, you make thousands of decisions.

These range from unconscious acts—turning on hot water instead of cold
in the shower—to momentous choices, like what house to buy or who to
marry.
Everyone knows all decisions aren’t created equal; the really hard ones
require really hard thinking. But two new studies challenge this
conventional wisdom. They suggest that thinking too consciously—really
deliberating—might be the wrong way to make big choices.  

Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that the human
brain is hard-wired to allow us to make the best decisions possible
with the information we have. But there’s a catch: while our brains are
programmed to make optimal choices, the best decisions seem to be made
when the unconscious mind is doing the deciding.
In a simple unconscious-decision test, a series of dots were generated
on a computer screen. Most of the dots moved in random directions, but
a controlled number were made to move uniformly. The test subjects had
to simply say if the dots were moving to the left or to the right.

During the test, the subjects performed as if their brains were
subconsciously gathering information. They never were aware of the
complex computations going on in their heads, they simply “realized”
the dots were moving in one direction or the other. This highlighted
the accuracy of decisions made subconsciously.
Another new study in the Journal of Consumer Research supports this
idea that the subconscious brain is actually the better decider. These
researchers reported that people who deliberate about decisions make
less accurate judgments that people who trust their instincts.

For the test, subjects were asked to evaluate abstract objects along
with actual consumer items. In five separate studies, the researchers
found better judgments were often made without deliberation. In fact,
the more complex the decision is, the less useful deliberation becomes.

All of which means it may be time to reconsider how you make up your
mind. Instead of making lists of pros and cons, both of these studies
show you are probably better off not thinking so much.

According to these researchers, instead of listening to your rational
mind when choosing your potential marriage partner or buying a new car,
you’ll be better off if you go with your gut.


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You can not sit a person down and ask them to solely reason logicallyfor a minute and then solely be instinctive for a minute. These mental functions are inextricably linked. As I see it, on the list of rational options, along with A B or C is Other. This choce might be to follow your bliss. Other, is still part of the rational process. Instinct iis not a 180 degree turn from reason. Reason and instinct are always co-operating on decision making and are not linear functions. Together they raise consciousness in more of a spiraling ascent. hmm

Mona Obremski
Feb 14, 2009

This is quite accurate for me. My “gut” feeling (trusting instinct) has never failed me, while my mind’s long deliberative method more often leads to indecision, procrastination and delay of completing the project.

Barbara Holland
Feb 13, 2009