Make A Decision When You’ve Got To Go

by Christopher Paul on June 14, 2011

If you have an important decision to make, be sure to do it with a full bladder. If you have to go, you’ll make better decisions. Mirjam Tuk, a professor at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, gave 5 glasses of water to one group and 5 sips to another. After 40 minutes, the ‘go’ group had more self control and held out for “better rewards”.

Pun-laden findings aside:

“If true, Tuk’s findings are interesting because they challenge an established psychological theory called “ego depletion”. This states that we only have a finite well of self-control. Each time we deny ourselves something—whether going to the bathroom or choosing a salad for lunch, rather than the sausage sandwich we really wanted—we use up some of our reserves. The theory of ego depletion was developed by Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Florida State University. In practical terms, he says, this means that if you have an important decision to make, you shouldn’t draw from your well of self-control beforehand. Reserves, he says, can be depleted in all sorts of ways: “Even things like trying to look interested at a boring meeting, trying to pretend your boss’s jokes are funny or not saying something unkind to your spouse when you are angry.””

The article has other decision making observations that peaked my interest. For example, they say if you sit on a hard surface when buying a car, you negotiate better. Similarly, you react more warmly to someone while holding a hot cup of tea or coffee; you react more coldly when holding an iced drink. Many of these observations make sense, though. It’s not a stretch to believe one’s physical state and environment have an effect on how we behave.

How, And When, To make A Decision – More Intelligent Life via TechDirt (of all places)

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