Some decisions in our life, intuitively, we feel as correct, while others leave us with doubts and may even cause us to review our initial choice. But Where does this feeling come from?
For the first time, a team of researchers from ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich has investigated this question systematically. The authors used experimental data to develop a computer model that can predict how an individual will choose between different options and why they might feel confident or doubtful about the decision they made.
The published study suggests that decisions are more likely to feel correct if we have invested a significant effort of attention in weighing the different options and, in addition, we are aware of having done it.
Consequently, the ability to question and review bad decisions depends on how well we are able to judge for ourselves if we carefully weigh the options or allow ourselves to be distracted during the decision-making process. This self-awareness, often referred to by experts as introspection, is an essential prerequisite for self-control.
The 35 study participants were initially asked to evaluate 64 products from two Swiss supermarket chains. They were presented with a picture of each product on the screen and asked how much they would like to eat at the end of the experiment. In the second part of the experiment, the test subjects were shown a series of images showing two products at the same time. In each case, ** they were asked to choose one of two options (donut or apple, pizza or pear) and then rate how confident they were in their decision **.
To make the experiment as realistic as possible, the participants had to eat the products after the experiment. The researchers used an eye scanner during the evaluation and decision-making phases to determine whether participants spent more time looking at one of the two products, how often their gaze changed from left to right, and how quickly they made their decision.