It is much easier to make decisions for others than to follow the advice we give out so readily. Science reveals the real reason why.
But why is it so easy to make decisions for others and yet so exhausting when we try to make good choices ourselves?
It seems contradictory that we are able to give out good advice, yet constantly make poor decisions for ourselves. We didn’t need those cookies from the supermarket, we definitely didn’t need another pair of jeans, and we really shouldn’t have argued with the people around us, so why did we?
It’s actually quite simple.
It has largely to do with our energy levels, scientifically speaking the levels of glucose in our body at the time of making the decision. Our levels of glucose naturally rise and fall as we eat, and this makes an effect on anything that requires thought.
So, it’s actually true that you can be hungry enough to become ‘hangry’, and it can cause you to make poor choices. This phenomenon has been nicknamed ‘decision fatigue’ and it is the main reason that advising other people is much easier than following our own advice.
When we take on the role of advisor we no longer suffer from this ‘decision fatigue’. Instead, it is almost liberating to make someone else’s choice for them, and we find it quite enjoyable. However, if you are a person who cares deeply and is highly empathetic towards others, then you can still suffer from this ‘decision fatigue’. It can result in bad advice because empathetic people are putting a lot of mental thought into what the best solution would be.
So who should we seek advice from?
According to Evan Polman, a marketing professor at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Business, and Kathleen D. Vohs, a professor and the Carlson School of Business at the same university, the best person to ask for advice is someone with lower empathetic levels.
It would be someone who values their own opinions quite highly, as they regard their interests before those of other people. Asking someone like this for advice will put you first in the decision-making process and give you much better advice that will provide you with the best outcome for you.
So when you want to make decisions and aren’t sure who to turn to, try to find someone who will put you and your interests first, rather than looking at the bigger picture and everyone’s emotions. When you are trying to make decisions for yourself, never ever do it when you’re tired. Also, try not to shop when you’re hungry, or you’ll end up buying a lot of things you don’t need. :)
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