decision making

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Assorted links

1) Choice architecture advice for businesses. Hat tip: Zach Perry.

2) Psychologists are studying ambivalence as factor in decision making more closely.

3) Likely ineffective recycling nudge in Sweden (in Swedish). Ad says “Let us recycle your cans” with a shelf below the message. Hat tip: Niklas Laninge.

4) Likely ineffective anti-gambling nudge in Australia. Pop-up screen showing current amount won and lost on video poker machine.

5) Lessons from psychology applied to the climate change debate. Hat tip: Five Minute Economist

6) Can you build social capital through a nudge? Hat tip: Social Capital Blog.

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“Think calmly and well, upon this whole subject. If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it.”

– Abraham Lincoln, from his first inaugural address, March 4, 1861, (our italics)

“This whole subject” that Lincoln refers to is the Civil War, which would begin the following month at Fort Sumter. That quote should’ve made the book.

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A neuroscience study has scientists and philosophers revisiting the free will and human decision making debate.

Using sophisticated brain imaging techniques, the researchers found that they can predict people’s simple decisions up to 10 seconds before they’re conscious of making such a choice.

“It seems that your brain starts to trigger your decision before you make up your mind,” said the study’s lead author, John-Dylan Haynes of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany. “We can’t rule out free will, but I think it’s very implausible. The question is, can we still decide against the decision our brain has made?”

This finding doesn’t actually seem as strange as it first sounds. The act of making a decision is a process, and the revelation of a lag, even one as large as ten seconds, between the point of decision and the point of action sounds plausible. Because of past research and everyday personal experience, we may simply be anchored on the idea that the decision-to-action should happen in a few milliseconds.

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