Although the definition and behavioral attributes of decision fatigue, also referred to “decision avoidance,” are not a new condition, social scientist research, conducted at University at Albany, State University of New York, indicates that factors affecting decision avoidance through four key components, such as anticipatory negative emotions, decision strategies, counterfactual thinking, and preference uncertainty (Anderson, 2003).
The experience of postponing and avoiding certain choices is universal, yet often appears to work against individuals’ goals. Delays transform into lost opportunities, and adhering to the status quo is frequently unjustified given advantageous alternatives. Still, individuals persist in seeking default no-action, no-change options. Decision avoidance deserves concentrated attention, yet it has not been studied in an integrated manner because it does not fit neatly into the current paradigms in clinical, cognitive, or social psychology. Yet, it is a common phenomenon with high personal and societal costs. Under conditions of high stress, this avoidance can become extreme. Take, for example, the “old sergeant syndrome” described by Janis and Mann (1977).
The findings across several different disciplines uncovered four decision avoidance effects that offer insight into this common but troubling behavior:
- Choice deferral
- Status quo bias
- Omission bias
- Inaction inertia
In a recent article, we see individuals such as President Obama, Facebook’s, Mark Zuckerberg, and other notable leaders wear virtually the same outfit every day (Baer, 2013). In fact, Baer explains these people behave this way to alleviate the condition of decision fatigue. So then, what might be the probability that you suffer from this sometimes debilitating decision avoidance predicament?
Fighting Decision Fatigue with Smith Business School Professor, Nicole Coomber
I share this information with you in the hope of generating decision fatigue awareness; for you cannot address and solve a problem until the problem has been identified and brought to our attention.
Be smart and be encouraged,
Anderson, C. J. (2003). The psychology of doing nothing: Forms of decision avoidance result from reason and emotion. Psychological Bulletin, 129(1), 139–167. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.129.1.139
Baer, D. (2015). The Scientific Reason Why Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg Wear the Same Outfit Every Day. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/barack-obama-mark-zuckerberg-wear-the-same-outfit-2015-4
Janis, I. L., & Mann, L. (1977). Emergency decision making: A theoretical analysis of responses to disaster warnings. Journal of Human Stress, 3(2), 35–48. doi:10.1080/0097840x.1977.9936085