In life we are constantly faced with decisions. These decisions can range from choosing which cereal to buy at the grocery store to choosing which college to attend for the next four years. When making these decisions, we do not always choose the most rational option. But why is that? When faced with important decisions shouldn't the most sensible choice be obvious?
When making decisions, both the rational section of our brains, and the emotional sections of our brains are active. Certain situations may require more activity in the rational part of the brain, while others will require more activity in the emotional section of the brain. These two sections of the brain are always competing, and typically we are equipped to call upon either section to help us with our decisions.
With equal access to these two sections of the brain making decisions should be a breeze for us, right? Wrong. Studies have shown that when our mind is overloaded with information, the emotional aspect of our brain tends to win out. When confronted with decisions we are usually faced with a lot to consider, which overwhelms the rational part of our brain. With so much stress put on the rational mind, it is too weak to put up a fight against the emotional mind.
In one <a href="http://smartdatacollective.com/garycokins/23935/rational-versus-emotional-decision-making">study</a> people are asked to memorize a number and then walk to the next room and recite the number. Everyone get numbers with varying digits, some with two digits, and others with up to seven. When walking to the room when they are supposed to recite the numbers they were given someone interrupts them in the hall and gives them a choice between a chocolate cake and fruit. Interestingly enough, he people with fewer digits tended to choose fruit and people with more digits chose chocolate cake.
These results display what happens when the rational section of the brain is strained. Typically, the emotional section pushes for cake and sweets and the rational section pushes toward fruit because it is healthier. The rational brain has too much to keep track of when it is attempting to remember seven numbers, and therefore is vulnerable and overpowered by the emotional part of the brain and gives in to the sweet, chocolaty appeal of the cake.
It seems so unfair. The most imperative decisions we have to make in life tend to be those that overwhelm us and stress us out. Yet, when making such crucial decisions our ability to make the right decision is impaired. Is there any way that we can make rational decisions even when we are stressed?