We often assume that being able to back up your choices with logic and facts is the best way to make decisions. In some situations, however, that may be wrong.
Picture: Matthew Frederickson/Flickr
One recent study from the University of Virginia showed that subjects who were asked to provide reasons why they liked a certain poster over another were less likely to keep the ones they ultimately chose to keep. Each group of students were shown five posters — two art posters, three simper cartoon or humorous animal pictures — and one group was asked to explain why they liked them. At the end, they were allowed to take one home. The ones who made decisions based purely on intuition kept the art poster most often, but the subjects that had to explain chose the funny posters more often. They also seemed less happy with their choices:
Here’s the twist. Some time after the tests, at the end of the semester, the researchers rang each of the participants and asked them questions about the poster they’d chosen: Had they put it up in their room? Did they still have it? How did they feel about it? How much would they be willing to sell it for? The “reasons” group were less likely to have put their poster up, less likely to have kept it up, less satisfied with it on average and were willing to part with it for a smaller average amount than the control group. Over time their reasons and feelings had shifted back in line with those of the control group — they didn’t like the humorous posters they had taken home, and so were less happy about their choice.
Intuition and expertise both have their place in decision making, but the assumption that we always have to provide reasons for certain choices may not be the most beneficial.
When giving reasons leads to worse decisions [Mind Hacks]