Decision Making and Choice
Imagine you are in the decision making phase of looking for a new house. You have accepted a new job and are preparing to move to a new city. The local broker elaborately informs you about several available houses and after an hour, you find yourself completely lost. The houses differ on so many different dimensions that it seems highly implausible that you would ever be able to make a sound choice. One house is bigger than the others, but also more expensive, and unfortunately your new job is that of a psychology professor and not of a CEO. Another house has a beautiful garden. Yet another is in a very quiet and attractive street. And the rickety old mansion the broker mentioned at the very end has three bathrooms, one of them with marble from Tuscany.
What to do, other than courageously confront the few unavoidable restless nights? One way to approach such a choice is by merely flipping a coin. All the houses are pretty
nice anyway, and hey, who cares about Tuscan marble? Most of us would agree that this is a poor way to make such a choice. Instead, we should think. Some choices are better than
others, and to increase the probability that you make a good choice, you should engage in thorough conscious thought. But does thorough conscious thought always pave the way to
Sound Decision Making
Yet another way to approach such a problem is to take your time and to “sleep on it”. Rather than thinking too much consciously, you delegate the labor of thinking to
the unconscious and at some point you intuitively “feel” what the best option is.
Most would agree that this strategy makes more sense than flipping a coin but that it generally leads to poorer decisions than decisions made after thorough conscious thought. But is that true? What does the research suggest?
This is further explored and investigated in this article.