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You’re Not As Rational When Making Decisions As You Think

How do you make your decisions?

Most of us would like to think that we are rational creatures that go through and speculate each of our choices as well as the chances and benefits before making our day to day decisions.

That includes which tomato to put into the basket, what to eat for lunch, where to watch the next movie, which car to buy, who to sell the house to and which company to buy over.

But, are we really that rational as we think we are, or are there other forces that pushes us to make our decisions otherwise that are actually irrational, yet we rationalize our decisions to make it seem rational?

Sounds confusing? Well watch this video by Dan Ariely, a world-famous behavioral economist and the author of Predictably Irrational, in this intereting TedTalk about “Are we in control of our decisions?”.

Really. Give this post 20 minutes, and perhaps you will make better decisions next time. Or maybe you think will be. 😉

Dan Ariely: Are we in control of our decisions?

How do you make your decisions?

Adidas Vs Nike

I’m looking for a pair of sport shoes. I’ve been looking around for quite some time now, going through stores and as usual, there are the usual Nike and Adidas fight. Why Nike and Adidas? Well because all the advertisements tell me that they’re probably have the best sport shoes out there. All the other brands rarely advertise to tell me how good their shoes are so I assume they’re not.

So I’ve went to both concept stores with a couple of friends. With each batch of friend I go with they will tell me different stories. Some tell me Adidas last longer because of the better quality, some tell me that Nike is better because it has the Nike+ function. Some go through the technology of Nike’s bouncy shoes while the other scrutinize the quality of Adidas shoes from tip to toe with me.

I looked through all the shoes and I listened to all the stories. I’ve nodded and kept all the advices in mind (or at least I’ve tried to).

Then I saw these pair of shoes at Nike on the shelf display. Lime green. Futuristic look. Mmm, I like that color.

“But Adidas shoes last longer! My friend got a Nike shoe and within a year it broke!”
“Uhm… But it’s the latest technology from Nike that promises it lasts forever.”
“But it doesn’t last! Adidas make longer-lasting shoes!”
“But it has the bouncy technology thingy and the Nike+ thingy!”
“But look at the price! It’s double the price of the Adidas shoe!”
“Higher price means better quality!”

I will find a hundred and one reasons to defend my decision. Actually I just happen to like the color and style of the shoe. All the advertisements gave me more excuse to buy the shoe that I have chose based on my irrational decision, so that I can rationalize my decision to my Adidas lover friends.

What, why do you think advertisements exist? They aid in making your irrational purchase decision rational so that you will buy their product, that’s why.

You’ve probably already made a decision before you think about it

As Dan Areily have probably got you convinced if you watched the above video, we make irrational decisions every day. Our decisions are affected by our limited cognitive abilities as well as the information that we’re bombarded every day.

And through our intuition our mind makes the first decision before you even think about it. As you speculate over the decision you might or might not deny the initial decision, but many intuitive decisions go through our mind are affected by the surrounding, not our rationale.

It may be at the time that the surroundings made the product stand out and look more prominent to you. It may because that you just happen to like something green that day. It may because that it smells like your bed thus you’re attracted to it. Well they aren’t really “valid” reasons if you come to look at it from a rational mind, but it happens.

Next time when you decide which chocolate to buy at the mart, well, stop and think about how do you think of the chocolate and why do you want to buy this chocolate.

You can come up with thousands of reasons why this chocolate is better than the others. Rational answers. Lower calories, more milk, more nuts maybe. But probably it has just attracted you under the right lighting conditions, placed in an eye catching position or it has your favorite color. All these things “nudge” our mind to make us choose that chocolate over the other.

And once we’ve made our decision we’ll probably stick with it, because we think that it’s a rational decision.

Same goes to “why I want to buy this car”, “why I want to buy this shirt”, “why I want to buy this laptop”, “why I want to get this drink”.

There, an irrational decision. 😉 Why do you think that chocolate companies pay so much to have “premium placement” at the supermarket?

Oh and that love-at-first-sight? It’s just the lighting, really.

So, how rational are you?

How much time do you spend to think about your everyday decisions, or do you just go with the first answer that come to your mind because you know that eventually, that is the answer that you’re going to go with anyway?

Are you the type of person that believes in intuition, or do you believe in your “rationale” instead?

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