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Origins of Irrational Decisions

05.08.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin
irrational decisions

We like to think that we are always logical and rational in our decisions. But sometimes a decision that had seemed quite sensible may lead to dire consequences. Let’s try to figure out how to choose the right path and not be mistaken.

If a person has made a decision (even if it is stupid or incorrect from the logical perspective), he or she will keep defending their position to the end. When looking for justification for a decision we have made, we unconsciously filter out everything that shows it was wrong. In psychology, this is called the “anchoring effect” – fixing the mindset on one’s righteousness. Any person may have such shifts in perception, regardless of their level of intelligence and social status.

At the heart of our psychological attitudes, actions and decisions there is a simple behavioural pattern. Research from Princeton University has shown that we make impulsive decisions when the emotional part of our brain has triumphed over the logical part. The brain is confused by the sense of closeness, support, excitement and other strong emotions.

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There is one simple way to protect oneself from fatal mistakes and to “outsmart” the deceptive feeling of self-righteousness. To do this, you need to confess to yourself that you are just an ordinary person, and, like all people, you tend to make mistakes. Before making important decisions, ask for advice – from your friends, your family, and people whose views you respect. Pay special attention to criticism and in any case, do not fence yourself off from it. Listen to counterarguments and make your decision only after careful analysis. And, last but not least, consider the consequences of the decisions you make.