Decision-Making (Less Is Better Than More)

. We are having to learn to live with

"...Situation where stakes were high, where things were moving quickly, and where participants have to make sense of a lot of confusing information in a very short time..."

Malcolm Gladwell, 2005

. In decision-making, the mind can adopt 1 of 2 different approaches, ie conscious (deliberate/analytical/ rational) or unconscious (instinctive/intuitive). The best decision-making involves a combination of the 2, ie

"...combine rational analysis with instinctive judgement..."

Malcolm Gladwell, 2005

. Conscious approach involves thinking logically & coming up with a definitive answer. In contrast, the unconscious operates quickly but without our realising it; it is instantaneous and spontaneous; it is based in instinct, ie experience. Sometimes it is called the adaptive unconscious and involves making very quick judgments based on little information

"...The adaptive unconscious does an excellent job of sizing up the world, warning people of danger, setting goals, and initiating action in a sophisticated and efficient manner..."

Timothy D Wilson as quoted by Malcolm Gladwell, 2005

. These 2 approaches operate in different parts of the brain and are motivated by a different part of your personality. Intuition is based on the experience of our senses, like visual, taste, etc; feelings, memories and imagination.

. There is a misconception that the quality of decision-making is directly related to the time and effort put into it, and the quality and quantity of information, ie more is better. Yet there are times, like under stress, when less is better. This helps us make good snap decisions and use first impressions. It can be a better way of making sense of the world, ie sometimes

"...decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately..."

Malcolm Gladwell, 2005

. On the other hand, when under pressure to make split-second decisions, we are vulnerable to being influenced by stereotypes and prejudices, ie

"...We are often careless with our powers of rapid cognition. We don't know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don't always appreciate their fragility......powers of rapid cognition seriously means that we have to acknowledge the subtle influences that can alter or undermine or bias the products of our unconscious......If we can control the environment in which rapid cognition takes place, then we can control rapid cognition..."

Malcolm Gladwell, 2006

. We need to be able to take a complex situation and reduce it to its few key elements, ie

"...even the most complicated relationships and problems......have an identifiable underlying pattern...... picking up these sorts of patterns, less is more. Overloading decision-making with information......makes picking up the signature harder, not easier. To be a successful decision maker, you have to edit.....we do this process of editing unconsciously......if you are given too many choices, if you are forced to consider much more than your unconscious is comfortable with, you get paralysed. Snap judgements can be made in a snap because they are frugal, and if we want to protect our snap judgements, we have to take steps to protect that frugality..."

Malcolm Gladwell, 2006

"... Extra information isn't actually an advantage at all; that is, in fact, you need to know very little to find out the underlying signature of a complex phenomenon...... Extra information is more than useless. It's harmful. It confuses the issues..."

Malcolm Gladwell, 2006

. In collecting data and information, the process can overwhelm you so that you drown in the data information, ie

"...You get too caught up in the production of information, you drown in the data..."

Malcolm Gladwell, 2005

. Our unconscious is a powerful force in decision-making but it is fallible as it is based on instinct. It needs to be controlled and educated. Like our conscious thinking, we are able to develop our rapid decision-making with training (repetition, practice, etc) and experience. It involves a lifetime of learning, understanding, observing and doing, and involves judgement.


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