Snap Decisions? Take A Second And You'll Probably Judge Right

You wouldn't know it from me but it's better to wait a little before making decisions, according to a new study.

I constantly make snap judgments (sometimes I'm right, in the case of a husband, and sometimes I'm wrong, also in the case of a husband, and yes, the same one) but this new study has found that hesitating even a fraction of a second makes for a better decision, reports.

“Decision making isn't always easy, and sometimes we make errors on seemingly trivial tasks, especially if multiple sources of information compete for our attention,” the Web site quotes first author Tobias Teichert, PhD, a postdoctoral research scientist in neuroscience at CUMC at the time of the study and now an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

To make a good decision?  Simply, do nothing.  At least for a while.  

“Postponing the onset of the decision process by as little as 50 to 100 milliseconds enables the brain to focus attention on the most relevant information and block out irrelevant distractors,” said last author Jack Grinband, PhD, associate research scientist in the Taub Institute and assistant professor of clinical radiology (physics) at “This way, rather than working longer or harder at making the decision, the brain simply postpones the decision onset to a more beneficial point in time.”

Dr. Teichert gives as an example, approaching a traffic light - the target -- and having to decide whether the light is red or green. “There is typically little ambiguity, and you make the correct decision quickly, in a matter of tens of milliseconds," he tells

I'll let the experts explain in their own words: "The decision process itself, however, does not distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. Hence, a task is made more difficult if irrelevant information—a distractor—interferes with the processing of the target. Distractors are present all the time; in this case, it might be in the form of traffic lights regulating traffic in other lanes. Though the brain is able to enhance relevant information and filter out distractions, these mechanisms take time. If the decision process starts while the brain is still processing irrelevant information, errors can occur."

Essentially,studies have shown that response accuracy can be improved by prolonging the decision process, to allow the brain time to collect more information. 

Study experiments revealed that it’s more beneficial to delay rather than prolong the decision process. The delay allows attention to be focused on the target stimulus and helps prevent irrelevant information from interfering with the decision process, Drs. Teichert and Grinband. “Basically, by delaying decision onset—simply by doing nothing—you are more likely to make a correct decision,” said Dr. Teichert.

So was I wrong in my snap judgment about my husband.  Mostly, no.  I sensed right away that he was a decent, kind man and that has proved to be true.  Also, he was very easy on the eyes!


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