This semester we spent a significant amount of class talking about the way people make decisions. With so many theories and strategies explaining decision making, it seems like people should have no trouble choosing the best option. However, I often find myself changing my mind and frequently going back and forth between two options before making a choice, if I ever come to one. According to buzzfeed, I am not the only one who struggles with indecisiveness. The article shows how people can be indecisive over the most trivial choices such as what to watch on Netflix, what to order at a restaurant, or what route to take on a road trip. What happens in our brain when the prospect and utility theories don’t provide us with an outcome that provides a clear choice?

According to a dissertation by Potworowski in 2010, indecisiveness is affected by seven mechanisms: worry, low self-confidence, dependence, high standards, escapist impulsivity, careless impulsivity, and concern for others. It is clear that the psychology of the personality can overlap with our cognition.  While some of these traits seem negative, Potworowski argues that being indecisive is not always a bad thing and it can even be a rational reaction when there are no preferences. It makes sense to not prematurely commit to a choice if the benefit of waiting for, gathering more, or carefully processing information about a decision outweighs the costs of the time spent doing so. By spending time gathering more information, one may be able to come to a better choice when they finally do make a decision. However, people should be cautious of how much time they spend considering their options and making sure that the cost of this time does not outweigh the benefits.

Potworowski, G. A. (2010). Varieties of Indecisive Experience: Explaining the Tendency to Not Make Timely and Stable Decisions. The University of Michigan.

2 thoughts on “Indecisiveness

  1. samanthavarljen

    I agree that indecisiveness should not be considered a negative thing. And when I think about my decision making process, I can see all those mechanisms of worry, low-self confidence, concern for others running through my mind. I feel like the concepts from this study also resonate to the recent concepts we’ve been learning about with reasoning and problem solving. Interesting post! It’s nice to know I’m not the only indecisive young adult!

  2. Hannah Yonce

    I found this blog post very reassuring because I am extremely indecisiveness. It is good to know that I am not alone in terms of this. I often have no preference in terms of what I want to do so I often turn to this area of doubt and second guess my choices. I think a reason for this indecisiveness though is that I spend time trying to make sure that I have weighed out all of my options and made the most radical choice. I really enjoyed this post because I have always thought that the fact that I am indecisive was a bad quality; however, this just reinforced that it is okay to take time with decision making. Thanks for sharing!

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