Some people can snap off decisions about cars, houses and work projects with little anguish. Other torture themselves over 30 shades of brown. There are some deep roots to whether someone is “black and white” or “shades-of-grey thinking” worth knowing.
There’s a host of new research coming out about the mental science of ambivalent thinking, and a Wall Street Journal write-up serves as a good introduction to it. For a long time, psychologists didn’t assume a tough decision was a deep-seated problem in some people; tests and studies that used 1-to-10 ratings seemed to cloak the issue. But some researchers are finding out that those who have trouble making decisions are often the most chronic procrastinators and full of regret. On the flip side, they also tend to make thoughtful decisions and accept the most wide-ranging points of view on a subject.
Work performance, and one’s feeling of worth in their job, is also tied tightly to how one makes decisions:
In the workplace, employees who are highly ambivalent about their jobs are more erratic in job performance; they may perform particularly well some days and poorly other times, says René Ziegler, a professor of social and organizational psychology at the University of Tübingen in Germany whose study of the subject is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. Positive feedback for a highly ambivalent person, such as a pay raise, will boost their job performance more than for someone who isn’t ambivalent about the job, he says.
Do you see yourself as black and white, shades of grey or somewhere in the middle in how you come to your decisions?
Why So Many People Can’t Make Decisions [WSJ.com]