Can thinking too much about your choices get in the way of happiness? A new study published in Personality and Social Psychology shows when this may be the case.
Psychologists gave subjects two posters to choose from. In one group, they let individuals choose their favorite poster based on gut instinct, while the other group chose their favorite poster after making a list of reasons on why they liked one poster better.
The researchers found that individuals who chose their favorite poster on gut instinct enjoyed their poster more after a 3 week followup. Meanwhile, the individuals who rationalized their decisions before making them ended up not only enjoying their poster less, but some didn’t even bother hanging it up once they got home.
When we are asked to make reasons for our choices, this can shift our attention toward stimuli that is more easy to verbalize and describe. However, this can also limit our ability to make a choice based on an “emotion” or “feeling” that isn’t so easily put into words.