How to Make Decisions: A Guide for When You Can’t Choose

  Making decisions is a crucial part of life, but many people struggle to make decisions, in one way or another. Some people, for example, are naturally indecisive, and therefore struggle to make decisions in a timely manner, even when it comes to trivial things, such as choosing what to eat for dinner. Other people, on …

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Why It’s Hard to Make Decisions (Especially Good, Fast Ones)

  Making decisions is often hard, and making good decisions quickly is even harder. Accordingly, many people struggle when it comes to making big life-alternating decisions, such as which college to go to or what career path to pursue. Furthermore, some people also struggle with other types of decisions, from somewhat important decisions, such as …

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Hubris: The Dangers of Excessive Pride and Confidence

  Hubris is a personality trait that involves excessive pride, confidence, and self-importance. Accordingly, hubristic individuals tend to overestimate things such as their abilities, knowledge, importance, and likelihood of success. For example, a hubristic person might believe that they’re never wrong, that they’re guaranteed to succeed in all their ventures, or that they deserve to …

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Ennui: How to Overcome Chronic Boredom

  Ennui (pronounced on-wee) is a type of chronic boredom, which generally involves weariness, dissatisfaction, and apathy, as well as the tendency to feel that everything is uninteresting and unfulfilling. People can experience either a general sense of ennui in their life, or they can experience it in relation to a specific domain, such as …

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The Verbatim Effect: People Remember Gist Better Than Details

  The verbatim effect is a cognitive bias that causes people to remember the gist of information, which is its general meaning, better than they remember its exact form, which is the way the information was presented and the minor details that it involved. For example, when people read a long text, they’re more likely …

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Jumping to Conclusions: When People Decide Based on Insufficient Information

  Jumping to conclusions is a phenomenon where people reach a conclusion prematurely, on the basis of insufficient information. For example, a person jumping to conclusions might assume that someone they just met is angry at them, simply because that person wasn’t smiling at them while they talked, even though there are many alternative explanations …

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The Contrast Effect: When Comparison Enhances Differences

  The contrast effect is a cognitive bias that distorts our perception of something when we compare it to something else, by enhancing the differences between them. This comparison can be either explicit or implicit, simultaneous or at separate points in time, and can apply to various traits, ranging from physical qualities, such as color …

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Homo Economicus: On the False Assumption of Perfect Rationality

  The term homo economicus (‘economic man’) refers to people as they’re portrayed in certain economic theories, where they’re seen as ideal decision-making machines, with flawless rationality, unlimited cognitive capacity, perfect access to information, and a narrow-range of consistent, self-interested goals. Roughly speaking, this means that the homo economicus can be seen as someone who …

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The Rhyme-as-Reason Effect: Why Rhyming Makes Your Message More Persuasive

  The rhyme-as-reason effect is a cognitive bias that makes people more likely to remember, repeat, and believe statements that contain a rhyme, compared to those that do not. For example, people generally perceive the aphorism “woes unite foes” as more accurate than the aphorisms “woes unite enemies” or “misfortunes unite foes”, despite the fact that they …

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Placebo: How the Placebo Effect Can Trick Your Mind into Feeling Better

  A placebo is a treatment that has no inherent ability to produce a direct physiological effect, but which nevertheless has a beneficial therapeutic effect, and can cause people to experience positive physical or mental outcomes. For example, when people are given an inert sugar pill by a doctor who tells them that it’s medicine, …

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