Why We Are Better Giving Advice Than Making Decisions On Our Own

Our decision-making skills are often more brilliant when we address other people’s problems than our own. In fact, advising others is a pleasant task that is not affected by the doubts that attack us when the decision concerns us.


This is indicated by the results of a study in the journal Social Psychological & Personality Science with which it has been found that throughout the day, we suffer what is called “ decision fatigue,” a psychological phenomenon produced by the number of options we have to choose or discard during the day and that makes us more vulnerable to indecision.


Lead researchers from the Wisconsin School of Business asked 450 people to complete an online survey that asked them to make decisions about ten different areas and from different perspectives. The participants were divided into random groups in which some had to make the decision for themselves and others for third parties.


What was discovered was that this ” decision fatigue ” disappears when we try to solve another’s problem. As Evan Polman points out, one of the scientists signing the research, “it’s like there’s something fun and liberating about making someone else’s choice.”


The phenomenon of dissociation


From neuroscience, Professor CarmeTimoneda of the University of Girona connects the results of this study with the classic idea that “it is easier to distance ourselves from our emotional feeling when the decision is for someone else. In fact, a technique in psychotherapy called ” dissociation ” is well known.


The “dissociation” consists of trying to “visualize or remember any memory in an associated way, that is, as we lived it at the time. Or in a dissociated way, that is, as if we saw ourselves on a movie screen ”, explains Timoneda.


When we act as advisers to others, “we are usually acting dissociatively because we always contemplate their reality from the outside,” he explains.


And what happens in our brain is that “when we really get an idea of ​​the objective and subjective reality of the other, the prefrontal part of the brain starts to work fully, being able to calibrate pros and cons in the future,” he says.


The brain trap


However, the expert assures that it is very difficult to resort to this technique by oneself “because sometimes, instead of deciding the best option, the limbic system, the part of the brain that regulates emotions, pushes us to the option that most it relieves us at the moment.” But that is not really a decision making because there is no decision without evaluation and assessment of the effects and consequences in the short, medium, and long term that will have one option and not another ”.


Timoneda explains that when we correctly assess a situation, “the prefrontal areas of the brain are the ones that take the helm while the dorsolateral and medial areas are activated to assess the emotional” weight “that the decision implies for the person.”


The best advisor


The person who can be most helpful when making a decision does not necessarily have to be the one who loves us the most of the most empathic. According to the researchers, “someone who cares deeply about others may also suffer from counselingfatigue .”


In general, the best counselor will be ” someone who tends to doubt others, thinks highly of himself, and is impartial in the specific situation.” These types of personalities will put their opinion before the situation of the other, they will find it stimulating to be asked, and precisely that combination can lead them to get the advice right.

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