Trust Your Gut: Too Much Thinking Leads To Bad Choices (1/26/09)
Don't think too much before purchasing that new car or television. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, people who deliberate about decisions make less accurate judgments than people who trust their instincts. ...
In five separate studies, the researchers found that better judgments can often be made without deliberation. In the first study, participants rated Chinese ideograms for attractiveness. In a following study, participants were asked to judge paintings that were widely considered high- or low-quality. Subsequent groups of participants rated jellybeans and apartments. In all the studies, some participants were encouraged to deliberate and others to go with their gut.
The more complex the decision, the less useful deliberation became. For example, when participants rated apartments on just three primary characteristics (location, price, and size) deliberation proved useful. But when the decision became more complex (with nine characteristics) the participants who deliberated made worse decisions.
One has to wonder exactly how these "researchers" define "better" or "worse" decisions. Better or worse for whom? The salesperson? Especially in view of the following, it almost seems as though outright deception and manipulation is being advocated:
"For example, if a car boasts one particularly good feature (for example, safety) but has a number of other negative features (for example, expensive, bad gas mileage, poor handling), a car salesman might encourage a potential car buyer to deliberate over the pros and cons of the car, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of safety. In this way, the disturbed weighting of attributes created by deliberation might be used to highlight the one sellable feature and draw attention away from the unattractive features," write the authors.
For example, decisions about home mortgages are obviously complex, yet require careful deliberation. What's advocated in this "research" is what made it possible for so many objectively bad decisions about home mortgages to be sold to buyers in recent years, with eventual disastrous results.
One wonders whether political scientists have investigated to what extent such "consumer research" studies are taught to and studied by political operative, and to what extent they adversely affect political choice about candidates and issues.
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