Decisions, Decisions, Decisions …

By | 2016-11-04T16:58:00+00:00 September 26, 2013|Insights, Right Hemisphere, Viewpoints|
Malcolm MacKenzie

Malcolm MacKenzie, SVP, Consumer Strategist

Tales From the Right Hemisphere, the blog that plugs into the right brain and connects the emotional and intuitive actions that result in decisions.

We talk about people as decisive or indecisive.  It can be part of how we define someone. Decisive is generally thought of as a positive quality and that a decisive person makes decisions that have positive outcomes.

Indecisive people are challenged by decision-making. If a person is indecisive, their lack of decision making, or their ability to make a decision and stick with it, is generally associated with negative outcomes.

How do we make decisions?

Does a decisive person weigh all the possibilities before making a decision, or do they just make a commitment and go? Is an indecisive person weighing all the possibilities, and getting lost in options, instead of focusing on the most likely scenarios and taking action? It turns out that emotions are involved in even the simplest decisions.

If you had no emotions, would decision making become better or worse?

Scientific study has shown that without emotions we become very indecisive. In his book How We
Jonah Lehrer describes the results of studies of people who have injuries to their orbitofrontal cortex, a processor of emotion. They weigh options in an almost infinite variety. They are unable to focus on the most important criteria for the decision, because they weigh all options equally. Their emotions are unavailable to help them prioritize and filter choices so they have enormous difficulty making a decision.

The prefrontal cortex is involved in making logical choices. It is said to hold about 7 pieces of information at a time. Typically there are many more than 7 pieces of information available to make a decision. What happens? Your emotions help sort through the choices, and you eliminate and prioritize so that you are left with the information you need to make a decision.

A decisive person is in tune with their emotions, can sort through information, prioritize, and commit. An indecisive person is less in tune, can’t sort as well, may be overwhelmed by the consequences of a bad decision, and gets paralyzed by the analysis.

Most of us are neither decisive nor indecisive. We range somewhere along a continuum between the 2. Depending on the decision required, we change positions on the continuum.

As we consider our communication strategies and our advertising, we often focus on keeping our language simple. Perhaps we should spend more time on how decisions are made, limiting the rationale to the most important elements, and provide emotional context to help with decision-making.

What 7 things are in your prefrontal cortex now? Are you in tune with your emotions?

Let me know, I’m here.


About the Author:

Malcolm MacKenzie
SVP, Strategic Planning and Customer Insights

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