'Sleeping on it' best for complex decisions

Discussion in 'Psychology' started by paradox, Feb 17, 2006.

  1. paradox



    Complex decisions are best left to your unconscious mind to work out, according to a new study, and over-thinking a problem could lead to expensive mistakes.

    The research suggests the conscious mind should be trusted only with simple decisions, such as selecting a brand of oven glove. Sleeping on a big decision, such as buying a car or house, is more likely to produce a result people remain happy with than consciously weighing up the pros and cons of the problem, the researchers say.

    Thinking hard about a complex decision that rests on multiple factors appears to bamboozle the conscious mind so that people only consider a subset of information, which they weight inappropriately, resulting in an unsatisfactory choice. In contrast, the unconscious mind appears able to ponder over all the information and produce a decision that most people remain satisfied with

    Ap Dijksterhuis at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and colleagues recruited 80 people for a series of lab-based and “real-world” tests. The participants were provided with information and asked to make decisions about simple and complex purchases, ranging from shampoos to furniture to cars.
    Snap decisions

    In one of the tests, half of the participants were asked to ponder on the information they were given and then decide which among similar products to buy. The other half were shown the information but then made to perform a series of puzzles including anagrams and simple arithmetic. At the end of the puzzle session, the participants were asked to make a snap decision about the products.

    “We found that when the choice was for something simple, such as purchasing oven gloves or shampoo, people made better decisions – ones that they remained happy with – if they consciously deliberated over the information,” says Dijksterhuis.

    “But once the decision was more complex such as for a house, too much thinking about it led people to make the wrong choice. Whereas, if their conscious mind was fully occupied on solving puzzles, their unconscious could freely consider all the information and they reached better decisions.”
    Expectation counts

    However, the unconscious mind appears to need some instruction. “It was only when people were told before the puzzles that they would need to reach a decision that they were able to come up with the right one,” Dijksterhuis told New Scientist.

    If they were told that none of what they had been shown was important before being given the puzzles, they failed to make satisfactory choices.

    “At some point in our evolution, we started to make decisions consciously, and we’re not very good at it. We should learn to let our unconscious handle the complicated things,” Dijksterhuis says.

    Journal reference: Science (vol 311, p 1005)
  2. achilles28


    I agree. The subconscious is a powerfull thing.

    My most profound insights (i like to think) are made after contemplating subject matter for several days. Then experiencing an ephineny 'a-ha!' moment out of the blue.

    It takes time for weighty conclusions to percolate.
  3. The book "Trading chaos" gives some examples. If we with our conscious limited mind focus on our breath it becomes unnatural. We ask ourself, should i breath out now, how long should i hold my breath, should i use my stomach more...

    The key is just observing it. Not becoming unconscious because then we are like programmed robots. I would not like to trade unconsciously .)
  4. Has anyone else ever traded in their sleep?
  5. You mean like in Theta/Delta brainwaves where the body is sleeping? Yogic sleep i think it is called. Have you done that?
  6. ===============
    Cant really say if sleeping on it results in a better buy than snap shampoo purchase:D Article implies snap shampoo purchase is fine!!

    Probably much thought, study, many days/nights result in better auto /real estate buys.

    Not sure if that study article meant to imply ONLY one night results in better car/home purchase;
    highly probably time, even more time than 1 night is more useful.

    Hot real estate market like CA was ,maybe 1 night is better than many;
    wouldnt know.:cool: