Nobody expects…

There is an interesting article in the NY Times last week: The Advantages of Closing a Few Doors, which looks at the work of Dan Ariely on decision-making. Ariely has just published a book, Predictably Irrational, and he has a website with the same name. The NYT article focuses on a particular aspect of his work — what happens when we try to keep our options open.

It is a natural human characteristic to invest effort in maintaining a number of different alternative courses of action. Inevitably this costs time and money (and encourages disappointment — as I mentioned in an earlier post, the more we know about something the harder it is to be satisfied with a choice against it). Lawyers often benefit from this — part of a client’s investment in indecision is represented by our fees. This behaviour is predictable, but irrational. According to Ariely, unpredictable rationality can help us make better decisions earlier. We would also avoid wasting our limited resources on options that we will never actually choose.

I have recent experience of this. We are in the process of choosing between two options that are extremely closely matched. Neither choice would be wrong. Either would be entirely defensible. The longer I think about the options and balance the different pros and cons, the more difficult it will be to find the time to implement whichever choice I make. It is time to stop dithering and be rational — just choose one.

 Via Kottke.

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