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.