19 Oct 2023

Changing minds about decisions

Researchers have challenged the idea that cutting down on the number of decisions we have to make can make us more efficient.

‘Decision fatigue’ describes the theory that our power to make decisions is limited and depletes over time.

Examples of the phenomenon have included a study which found choices made by nurses on a medical helpline became less efficient and more conservative in their choices the more time had passed since their last break.

But the evidence for this has been re-examined by researchers who claim that the phenomenon has been over-estimated

Writing on the Psychology Today website, decision-making expert Dr Eva Krockow from the University of Leicester described the new analysis.

She said: “Instead of being an objective, universal phenomenon, what's referred to as decision fatigue might be confounded by other contextual factors.

“For example, if healthcare providers make poorer choices as the day goes by, this could simply be explained by delays in their appointment schedules, leading them to rush decisions with the aim of finishing work on time. While this is bad news for affected patients, we might be able to address the issue by spacing out appointments more efficiently.”

Read the full article.

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