Looking at the bigger picture to helps you make better decisions

New research done by Ohio State University claims that if you distract yourself from a decision- you may just make the right decision- not only for you but also for those around you.

According to Paul Stillman, lead author of the study and also a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State University- the best decision sometimes will lead to maximum benefits for everyone associated with it.

“The most efficient decision is the one that is going to maximize the total pie – and that is true whether more goes to you or more goes to someone else,” explained Stillman. “Sometimes it makes the most sense to seem a bit selfish if that is going to maximize overall benefits.”

The research team gives a simple example: Say there’s a software engineer who could either create a new productive software or he could spend time fixing a friend’s computer. Now, according to the research, the former might be more important. It may seem a bit selfish for the engineer to neglect his friend but his choice builds more value for him, and also for those who might use the software in the future.

Stillman and his team found out that when people were looking at the big picture, they more often than made the decision that would bring more overall value for the whole group associated with that decision.

Psychologists call this perspective of looking at the big picture the “high-level construal” which simply means that you create some psychological distance from the decision. The distance could be a factor like time- say you’re planning an event that’s going to happen from a year from now. Distance could also mean people who are involved in the decision being far away.

“High-level construal allows you to step back and see the consequences of your decision and to see more clearly the best way to allocate resources,” said Stillman. The study was published recently in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

The research team agreed that the findings of the study showed that there does exist a way that can help people reduce the amount of waste and inefficiencies when they are making decisions so that it a win-win for not just them alone, but for everyone.

“When you create some psychological distance from your decision, you tend to see things more in line with long-term goals, and you can see beyond the immediate considerations of the here and now,” concluded Stillman.


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