| The Problem With Thinking Too Much:
Analyzing Reasons Can Reduce the Quality of Judgments
It may be conventional wisdom to think carefully before making judgments and decisions. We may make a list of the disadvantages and advantages of each possible choice before making an important decision. Is this rational approach to making judgments and decisions always beneficial? Probably not.
Wilson and Schooler (1991) investigated the influence of analyzing reasons on judgments. In the first experiment, participants made judgments of the extent to which they liked strawberry jams. In the second experiment, participants made judgments of the likelihood of taking certain college courses. In both experiments, the judgments of the participants were compared with the judgments of experts. In both experiments, Wilson and Schooler (1991) found evidence that suggests that analyzing reasons reduced the quality of judgments. (1)
Implications for Judgement and Decision Making Styles
What are the implications for judgment and decision making styles? The findings of the above experiments suggest that it may not always best to adopt a rational approach when making judgments and decisions. Sometimes there may be too much thinking.
However, the findings do not suggest that it is always best to not analyze reasons before making judgments and decisions. There may be very important decisions that we need to make in our lives that may require significant analysis and evaluation of advantages and disadvantages of each option. For example, when making a decision about accepting a job or making a career change, it may be best to carefully consider and evaluate our reasons and thoughts concerning the possible choices. Thus, there may be some situations in which a rational decision making style may is better.
More research may be needed to address the conditions in which logical reasoning and analyzing reasons leads to better or worse judgments and decisions.
1. See their article for more information about their findings.
Wilson, T. D., & Schooler, J. W. (1991). Thinking Too Much: '
Introspection Can Reduce the Quality of Preferences and Decisions.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 181-192.