3 Takes on the Science of Decision Making

3 Takes on the Science of Decision Making

At ZTE, we constantly think about what consumers consider when deciding on a smartphone. Our goal, of course, is to deliver what they need — for example long battery life and value for the money. Knowing all the influences on making this choice — friends’, family and colleagues’ opinions, shopping sites for reviews, product videos and manufacturers’ information — we wondered what science has to say about the decision-making process.

Head Versus Gut

Most people approach decision making through reason. They try to think their way through things. But according to Dr. Deborah Davis in Psychology Today, the head shouldn’t rule alone. “Making important decisions is not simply a matter of devoting your intellect to the task. It also involves devoting your gut.”

The two are literally connected, and Davis suggests the gut is our “second brain.” She equates the gut to “physical sensations” and says being aware of how your body feels — both good and bad — can be a clue as to which decision is right.

That’s not to say ignore the mind completely. She goes on to talk about taming runaway thinking by making “mindful” decisions. This involves slowing down and being in a state of acceptance, peace and trust. See her 10 tips for this approach.

The 10-10-10 Rule

For better or worse, hindsight is everything once the decision is made, but author and business journalist Suzy Welch suggests foresight will help you choose. She invented the “10-10-10 rule.” In essence, when weighing an option, ask yourself how it will make you feel in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years.

She describes using it successfully for seemingly small decisions like staying late at work versus a family event to life altering pronouncements like divorce. While she assigned the time frame in intervals of 10, this quantity is not as important as what the sequence forces you to do. It provides space to take a step back, be methodical and examine the what and the why in the context of your present and future.

Leave it to Chance

If this is all too much, leave the decision to chance. Going back to Dr. Davis’ article, she says flip a coin if you are stuck. It can help clear out the distracting chatter and allow you home in on what both brains are trying to tell you. It’s especially beneficial when the mind at a standstill. The gut can be the “tiebreaker.”

Assign each side of the coin an outcome. Flip it several times, noting how your body feels with each option, e.g. dreadful or excited, relaxed or anxious. It’s not foolproof but can be a simple exercise in getting out of your own way.

And, in fact, one well-known researcher found that the action of choosing is impactful in and of itself. “… people who decided to change their lives in some huge way — quitting a job, getting engaged, getting divorced — were happier than those who took no action, and stuck with the status quo.”

Hopefully this expert advice has been valuable. These are just a few theories on how to best approach decision making.

For more on choosing the right smartphone, check out ZTE USA.

You can also jump over to Twitter and make a quick choice in our #BattleoftheFeatures.