affective design

Exploring Emotional Design

Unconscious, Emotional Decisions?

New Scientist has an article about how making complex decisions by relying on the unconscious mind results in more satisfaction…This is interesting because it relates to some research regarding the effects of emotion on decision-making. People tend to rely more on their affective/emotional responses to make decisions when the amount of information they possess is low. People who are more knowledgeable on a topic tend to rely more on the information they possess to make decisions. However, this description of behaviour does not specify how satisfied people are with the decisions they make. The article in New Scientist specifically addresses the satisfaction people receive from their choices. According to the article, when it comes to purchase decisions, simpler decisions are best made with more conscious deliberation while large, complex decisions are better made unconsciously.

This relates to the Paradox of Choice, by Barry Schwartz. In Schwartz’s view, “unlimited choice” can “produce genuine suffering.”, as we are never quite sure if we’ve made the best decision. A quote:

“We assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis. And in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.”

Such a plethora of choices leads to demands on our attention that we can’t possibly meet. You could literally spend weeks deciding which shampoo is the best, and still not be genuinely satisfied with your choice. I’ll take satisficing anyday.

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