The Science Behind Decision Making-What are Decision Making Influencers?
Can you cite something which we do every day? Make decisions. Every day we make decisions that are significant and sometimes insignificant. Some decisions are hard and others need milliseconds. For a while, I have been wondering is there a science behind decisions. Yes, there is a science-backed explanation for the daily choices we make. This post is about why decision making is big and the science behind the decision-making process. Decisions can put us under pressure and the process itself can be overwhelming. People who make decisions at a faster pace may find things less complicated than others may find decision-making complex and overthink its repercussions. Here, these simple strategies will help in making decisions that are simple and has a positive effect.
What is the Science Behind Decision Making?
There is a scientific explanation for the decisions made and the brain has an important role in the process itself. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for planning, sorting things out, and most importantly everyday decisions. The speed at which decisions are made depends on the difference between the choices.
For example, if you have to choose between spinach and a piece of chocolate cake. The time taken to make your decision to make a choice is less. Perhaps when a choice is made between a chocolate cake and chocolate mousse. The decision making becomes tough. The difference between the choice is less and the time to make a decision is more.
A mathematical model designed by UNIGE's researcher, Satohiro Tajima explains value-based decision making when a subject is faced with two choices. "The brain sums up the values that are associated with the memories attached to the two choices. If we have more positive experiences, i.e., memories associated with the choice, then the decision is made when this difference comes to a "threshold value." This, in turn, determines the time the decision takes to make." This model explains the value of the threshold between two choices is less, then the time to make decisions is more. While decision making becomes quick when the threshold value is far apart or big. This is the reason why the brain needs more time to make a decision when the value of the choices depend on memories.
According to Alexandre Pouget, a professor at UNIGE "Making a simple choice can take 300 milliseconds, but a complicated choice sometimes lasts a lifetime" His study also states that "the decision rests on the difference between the cumulative value of each choice and the average value of the accumulated values over all the choices." His study explains our brain works on the difference in the value of the choices and connecting it with memories. That may be one of the reasons why some decisions are quick and some may take multiple years.
What are Decision Making Influencers?
Many things influence our decision-making ability. Usually, when there are too many options, we ultimately pick one based on the value of the choice. The following is a list of influencers that affect your decision-making ability.
1.Decisions Made in the Morning
Believe it or not, the time of day affects our decisions. Making decisions in the morning is efficient and better. Making decisions at this time of day is great because the serotonin in our brains is usually high. This can help calm our brain. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter which is the key hormone that calms and stabilizes our mood, feeling, and much more.
This key hormone has an impact on our overall body. It helps our brain cells and nervous system cells to communicate with each other. Serotonin helps us to eat, sleep, and most importantly make decisions. We tend to make less risk-averse decisions in the morning. This is because of the high level of the wonder hormone serotonin in our brains.
As we progress through the day our serotonin starts to decrease. During the later part of the day, we tend to make poor choices. It is normal to postpone decisions rather than making one in the afternoon. Taking decisions before 11 am is a great choice. According to the study published in the Science Direct more precise decisions are made in the morning between 8.00 AM and 1.00 PM.
2.Sleep and Decision Making
Sleep is essential for decision-makers. Many of you might ask why. This is because there is a phase of sleep named deep sleep or slow-wave sleep. At this time our levels of serotonin rise and remain at a normal level during the rest of the day. If we don’t get enough sleep, the level of serotonin dips and we wake up to a poor start. As mentioned before the high levels of serotonin in the morning helps in making accurate choices. So, better sleep is a great additive to improve serotonin levels.
3.Stress Influences Decision Making
Little did we know stress influences decision making. Stress may have both a positive or negative impact on the choices made. Stress makes us concentrate more on the ways that could support us to make the right decisions. Scientists have found out that when people are under pressure they tend to start paying attention to the positive information and details.
You are probably thinking, what does this have to do with decision making? Well, let me tell you. When we make decisions under stressful circumstances, we pay more attention to the upsides or positives of the choices. An example of a choice between an apple and a cookie. We might look at the upside of eating an apple rather than a cookie. We might say an apple is a healthier choice and ignore a yummy chocolate chip cookie.
Sometimes stress can lead us to make poor choices. A decision made in frustration tends to be a bad choice. People in unfamiliar conditions with few choices make premature decisions and this prevents to open the door to better choices. On the brighter side meditation and mindfulness helps to control our decision-making ability positively.
4.Learn From the Past
We all learn from our mistakes and pasts. From stealing a brother’s socks or eat too much sugar. Lessons are learned in a hard way. Surprisingly, our experiences impact most of our everyday decisions. All the sensory details from smell, taste, touch, hear, or see can impact our decision in the future. We mostly overlook it, but most of the decisions made in the past few minutes are probably based on experiences in the past. An example might be if you don’t enjoy blueberry, the next time you might prefer butterscotch as the flavor of ice cream. Best decisions come from memories and experiences.
There are a lot of variables that affect decisions. This quote is very apt when we decide
"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."
Make your best decisions. Bye! See you soon for another epic discovery!