Having Too Much Information Can Lead Us To Make Worse Decisions

By Emily Reynolds Ensuring you’re well-informed before making a choice is, on the whole, a sensible thing to do. This is especially true of big decisions — just pretending you’ve read the terms and conditions of a new website might be okay, but we’re unlikely to be so lax about our health or finances. But could too much information lead us to make worse, not better, decisions? A study published in Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications suggests that sometimes that might be the case. Min Zheng and colleagues were motivated by advances in machine learning that have increased the information available to feed into decision-making, particularly when it comes to models of cause and effect: these algorithms can reveal potential outcomes likely to happen from certain actions or inputs. But when it comes to human decision-making, it’s unclear how useful such information is. Simply presenting causal information to people may not actually help them make decisions: as senior author Samantha Kleinberg says, “being accurate is not enough for information to be useful”. In particular, we don’t know how this information might interact with the knowledge and beliefs people already have. An initial experiment tested how causal information influences the kinds of decisions we make in everyday life. The team presented 1,718 participants with a real world scenario and asked them to give advice on how they would approach it. Participant...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Tags: Decision making Source Type: blogs

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