Why Can Reasoning Hurt Your Decision-Making?
Quick – what’s more important intuition or logic?
You gut feeling says: intuition. But when you start thinking about it, your mind will tell you that logic is more reliable and makes more sense – because it’s logical.
It’s great when your mind and your heart are aligned, but what happens when they point in the opposite directions? Can rationalizing actually hurt our intuition and push us into making wrong choices?
It turns out yes! And it happens more often than you think.
In one recent study a group of students was offered 5 posters to choose from. Two were art posters and three funny posters with kittens and cartoon animals. Half of the students were asked to rate the posters and pick one they would like to take home. The other half was asked to rate posters and to justify their ratings.
95% of people, who were asked to choose based on their intuition, chose art poster. The group who had to give reasons acted differently. They were 7 times more likely to take a humorous poster home compared with the first group.
But there is the twist… Some months later, when researchers called the participants, it turned out that the group who had chosen humorous posters were less satisfied with their choice and less likely to put them up in their bedroom. They liked art posters better all along (no offence to cute kittens). Here is the entire experiment if you want to read more about it.
How are these findings connected to our everyday decisions?
A lot of times we intuitively know what we want (even if we can’t explain why). But as soon as we start justifying our decisions and relying solely on reasoning, we quickly convince ourselves that another option makes more sense. And choose poorly!
It doesn't apply only to posters or ice-cream flavors. The same decision-making mechanism kicks in when we are considering going on a date with a person or choosing a different career path. Doing what makes sense in our head does not always guarantee that will be happy with our decision afterwards.
So choose wisely. Gather as much information as you can to make an educated decision. But also learn to still your inner dialogue and trust your intuition more.
What kind of track record does your intuition have?
Do you often ignore your intuition only to find that it was right? Or do you tend to follow your gut feeling too quickly and later regret your haste? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!