When Making Choices, Remember That First Isn’t Always Best

In a paper published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers have found that people tend to prefer the first option when given choices in a sequential order — even when the first option isn’t the best choice.

The paper, titled First is Best, ran through three experiments with choices laid out in a sequential order. What they found was that when participants were thinking quickly and making fast decisions, they preferred the first choice even when it was unwarranted and irrational.

The researchers have a few ideas for why this happens. One theory is that it’s about evolutionary adaptation because we prefer the first people we meet. Another is that it comes from the historic “pecking order” when the first pick is always the best. The lesson here is that when you’re making decisions, whether it’s choosing a university, or buying a TV, remember that your brain inherently might prefer the first option even if it’s not that good.

First is Best [PLoS One via ScienceDaily]


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