We Are Predictably Irrational– More Than Ever

I constantly make bad decisions. Both big ones and little ones. To the point where I’m spending a lot of time trying to understand my decision-making process.

There are three trips all that cost the same: Rome (with a free breakfast every day); Rome (with no breakfast included); and Paris (with free breakfast every day). What do we choose?

Most of us will choose Rome with breakfast. Why? Because it’s easier to compare the two Rome options than Paris and Rome. This is the decoy effect, more scientifically called the asymmetric dominance effect in decision making.

You know those late night commercials that always end with FREE!? That’s the cost of zero cost. We often end up spending so much more for something FREE than if we’d paid for something else. For example, we will wait in line for something on a day its free, rather than spend our time doing something else. How much is time worth? This is something I focus on as a writer because time is my most valuable currency.

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These examples come from a book titled Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. I read this book years ago, but have gone back to it recently as I re-examine my own life and my decisions. I’m currently finishing up my fourth book this year as part of an intensive business plan. The plan is working. Time Patrol is doing well, but was the plan the smartest and most efficient given all the factors? Or was I repeating my past? My wife is forcing me to see something that I really don’t want to: am I using my time most efficiently or am I, once more, being predictably irrational? What’s interesting is I can rationally argue for my decisions, even though, in reality, they are often wrong.

One thing the book talks about is how I will make an irrational decision while emotionally aroused. For me this is when I make a decision when angry or upset. I throw reason out the window. I remember one time getting upset at a four way stop at the guy to my left who made a right without using his turn signal. So I’m making a right too, with my signal because I’m always right!, but almost fail to see the pedestrian in the crosswalk because I was so focused on the guy who was wrong. My anger blinded me.

More to come on this as I try to weave my way through the forest in my brain. I find the chapter in the book on the Black Pearl fascinating, and I’ll blog about that.

Nothing but good times ahead!

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Originally published at www.writeitforward.com on August 4, 2016.

West Point grad; Special Ops Vet; NY Times bestseller of over 80 books; for free books and over 200 free downloadable slideshows go to www.bobmayer.com

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