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Are You Confident in Your Choice?

two beauties

Do you like the beauty on the left or right? Why? Maybe after reading this post, you will not be 100 percent sure about why you like her. *This image is not the one used in the experiments.

Having two images of strange beautiful girls in your hands, you are asked to explain why you love the girl on the left (you said you prefer the left girl). You spoke highly of the left girl for a while, finding that the picture in your hand was not the original one. Such choosing disorder phenomenon does not only occur when you are choosing beautiful girls, but also possibly happen when you are making big choices – your brain may cheat on you, study says.

Be a prudent investor

Irish scholars McLaughlin and Somerville designed a “pension investment program”, fabricating six companies that provide high-risk (high payback) and low-risk (low payback) programs. The subject participants had to select three to six programs they were satisfied with and allocated a certain percent of investment on each program. An example is shown below.

Question: What kind of payback are you expecting? What is the risk coming with the payback?


Low payback/low risk (Company A/B Plan)

Medium payback/medium risk (Company C/D Plan)

High payback/high risk (Company E/F plan)

After making their decisions, more than 70 percent participants have not noticed that their chosen plans have already switched to other plans that were similar to or completely different from their original choices when they were explaining their choices on investment programs and the corresponding investment allocations.

When the experiment finished, the participants were asked about whether they noticed the investment programs were different, and surprisingly, more than 80 percent of them were unaware of that.

Why? Don’t worry, you are not amnesiac!

Such phenomenon is called choice blindness, in which you make a choice that is different from what your gut choose and you try hard to explain why these two choices are different. Research found that choice blindness often occurs when you are making decisions on something “you are forced to choose but not familiar with” or “when you don’t have clear preference”.  However, don’t overlook every decision you make – this experiment successfully altered the participants’ choices on pension investment programs and it even managed to let the participants persuade themselves and put forward reasonable explanation to support the thought that the changed investment plans were the best option. It can be concluded that choice blindness is the major cheater in decision making. Moreover, other studies suggest that choice blindness is able to change people’s political stand, tastes, etc.

How to avoid being cheated by your own brain?

The study found that participants who thought thoroughly (spent more time on thinking) were more likely to find that they were cheated, suggesting that introducing cognitive attention can decrease the probability of choice blindness.

Next time, when you are making decision, don’t forget to slow down and let your brain think consciously, otherwise you may be fooled by others, or your own brain!