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How We Decide  by Jonah Lehrer (Part II)

 In the continuing discussion about how we make decisions without knowing why we decide; and on irrational factors that influence us, I will talk about this in the frame work of why we buy what we buy and about why we “choke”.

 Lehrer’s research examines how we make “purchase decisions”.  We tend to find one or two factors (whether they are significant or not) and make our purchase based on those criteria. In this case emotion rather than reason drives our decision, and as a result we may not make the wisest decision.   As an answer the author suggests, is that the best strategy may be to gather all information that you can, but don’t analyze, just absorb, then distract yourself, and then decide a bit later, focusing on your intuition


The book also discusses that sometime we over think things and have a “brain freeze” (my term) or we choke.  We try so hard to get every bit of data and we are so frightened of making the wrong decision, we are unable to make any decision.

 Lehrer talks about how even morality intersects with how our brain functions and the beliefs and decisions we make in that area of our lives.  What happens is, we decide based on our values rather that the facts.  For example, people who are members of the Tea Party, a movement that is against government spending money but who collect unemployment or social security.  What’s interesting is that they see no contradiction in their behavior.  (Note: This is not a political statement, but an example of brain inconsistencies)

 The author relates incidents when folks are most successful in making effective decisions.  Lehrer suggests that the most effective strategy is to combine logic with intuition to make the best decisions.

 When our awareness is raised about the “tricks” or misperceptions of our brain, we can then factor that into our decision making.  Knowledge is power and it enables us to live more effectively.  In my last blog, on decision making, I will focus on decision making and couples and how couples can best deal with making decisions that have been made without their partner’s input.

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