We will face decisions all our lives and most of those decisions will be made under stressful conditions.
The wealth of information around us shapes the choices we make regarding our health, financial state or even our leisure. Since we understand better the repercussions of our decisions today, it introduces even more stress into the decision making process making us more prone to making the wrong ones.
How stress affects our decisions making and what are the real reasons behind our bad choices?
The condition that affects our choices and leads us to wrong conclusions is related to the information we have about the decision we’re about to make and the natural stress that accompanies any decision making process.
Now, one would assume that having more information helps you reach a better decision right?
When you introduce stress into the equation the answer is – Wrong!
According to a study conducted in the University of Southern California, anxiety and stress change the way people weigh risks and rewards. Although stress is normally associated with negative experiences and outcomes, the research clearly shows that stressed people focus more on the way things could go right rather than go wrong.
When we face a decision under stressful condition, according to the study, we totally disregard negative elements that might influence us on our way to a more educated decision, a decision that takes into consideration all the information we have.
“Stress seems to help people learn from positive feedback and impairs their learning from negative feedback,” says Dr. Mather one of the researcher at the University. Gaining a better understanding of how stress affects decision making can help us understand how to reach better decisions by just axing stress out of the decision making conundrum.
This means that having the information alone can’t help you reach the right decision!
You’ll need to create the conditions that will help you reach a clear decision. In general, we have three types of decisions to make during our lives: immediate decisions, short and long term.
Since by this point you are probably already aware that stress influences your decisions, you’ll take a much more proactive approach towards reducing it, right? So, consider before reaching a decision to prolong the amount of time you invest in planning, write it all down or even talk to people who can help you reach a decision faster. For a more immediate decisions solution, I always go with what Alice Roosevelt Longworth said:
“I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches!”