Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why We Make Bad Decisions

There is an interesting op-ed in today’s New York Times with this title.  It mostly concerns medical issues. The highlights are as follows:

1.    People are hesitant to challenge experts. They “simply cede their power to decide to the expert”.

2.      “Anxiety, stress and fear can distort our choices.  Stress makes us less likely to take in the information we need.  Anxiety makes us more risk-averse than we would regularly be and more deferential as well"
3.  “All of us show bias when it comes to what information we take in.  We typically focus on anything that agrees with the outcome we want”. 

4.  “We need to be aware of our natural born optimism, for that harms good decision-making too”. There is an interesting example of how people respond to probabilities that are higher or lower than their expectations in the article.

5.    “We need to acknowledge our tendency to incorrectly process challenging news and actively push ourselves to hear the bad as well as the good”.

I liked the graphic that accompanied the article – shown below:


The full article is in the link below.

Over the past 3 years as I’ve done many consultations with doctors, I’ve seen examples of these decision-making traits in myself.  It was interesting to read a synopsis of these behaviors.