How do we make meaningful decisions

Myths or Facts? How do we make decisions?

1. In the dark, you make more rational decisions

The next time you want to make a decision without influencing yourself emotionally, maybe you should just turn the light off. Scientists at the University of Toronto concluded on the basis of their study that emotions are intensified in bright lighting conditions. To do this, they carried out an experiment in which they examined the emotional reactions of the participants. In bright light, the test subjects expressed stronger emotions in relation to positive and negative words and assessed a fictional character more aggressively than in darker light conditions. So they behaved more emotionally.

The results of the research can be used in sales: "Marketing specialists can also adjust the lighting levels in retail outlets according to the type of products sold," says marketing professor Alison Jing Xu. Accordingly, it makes sense to present emotional products such as flowers or engagement rings in a particularly bright light.

2. The first option is usually the best

Scientists at the University of California (Berkeley, USA) and Harvard University (Cambridge, USA) found that people are more inclined to choose the option presented or offered first. Part of the experiment consisted of presenting two products to the test subjects. They opted for what was presented first.

Psychologist Dana R. Carney says this applies to many situations: "The order of people appearing on talent shows like American Idol. The order of potential companies recommended by a stockbroker. The order of college acceptance letters an applicant receives. All. All these first have a privileged status ". That is psychology and does not say anything about whether this decision is really better.

3. When you have to go to the bathroom, you make more sensible decisions

This is called the so-called "urge to urinate" effect and it really does exist. An international research team carried out an experiment on this. The test subjects consumed different amounts of water and then had to make a decision about a reward. You could either opt for a smaller reward immediately, or a larger one, but much later. Bladder pressure inhibited the urge to choose the smaller reward. The subjects with bladder pressure tended to opt for the reward, which made more sense in the long run. True to the motto: Those who can withstand the urge to go to the toilet can also resist further impulsive stimuli.

4. We choose what we already know

Choosing something that you don't know is always associated with a risk: “What the farmer doesn't know, he doesn't eat.” Whoever hears this may not be to blame at all. By examining brain waves within a study, scientists at Saarland University were able to find out that recognition in the brain influences many decisions. The test subjects opted more in favor of the item that triggered a feeling of familiarity.

The scientists were even able to predict decisions based on the EEG data, although they did not know the prior knowledge of the test subjects. "We have now been able to show through neuroscientific studies that the decision-maker is actually guided by a feeling of familiarity," says psychologist Timm Rosburg.

5. We are fooled by comparisons

Everyone knows the effect: a medium-priced bottle of wine, next to many very expensive bottles, appears to be much cheaper than it actually is. This phenomenon is called the decoy effect in German bait effect.

Marketing professor Joel Huber is considered to be the discoverer of this effect. As early as 1982 he carried out the first studies on this topic. To this end, he asked his test participants whether they would rather go to a three-star restaurant around the corner or a five-star restaurant further away. As soon as a third option, a four-star restaurant even further away than the five-star one, was added, the subjects were more likely to choose the five-star restaurant. The option of the four-star restaurant was the bait. But what does that mean for making decisions? Consider each option individually and not be influenced by the range of options.