Research Shows Immediate Satisfaction Is Bigger Factor in Decision Making

A study from the California Institute of Technology shows that people often make choices based on immediate results rather than long-term benefits. The ability to make good choices based on self-control improves when the person takes longer to think about them.

The study sought to determine whether taste or health was more important in the selection of foods. Taste was often considered first because the factor was a concrete measure, which was immediately evident as the person ate the food. Health is a more abstract concept, and was usually considered later and not at all.

While the study was conducted to show how people make decisions for their health, it demonstrates a second concept about how people make choices in general. They will make a decision based on pleasure, which is one of the two factors influencing all of decision making. This is according to Arman Sadeghi and an article entitled 6 Reasons Why People Don’t Take Action. He ascertains that while pleasure is one factor, pain is another and often stronger factor in determining what actions a person will take.

People will make a decision that helps them avoid pain or experience pleasure. Furthermore, they will choose to avoid pain even more than seeking pleasure. How close the painful or pleasurable event is to occurring impacts the decision even more. They will focus on decisions that have immediate impact rather than ones in the future.

What people perceive to bring them pain or joy may be stronger than the actual truth. Their emotions alter the reality to fit their perception. Their fear or joy motivates them regardless of what logic tells them. The strongest emotion is the will to survive. A person will go to great lengths to avoid death in order to survive. People are designed to survive rather than thrive. Their decisions are based on this idea, such as when they choose to eat food instead of dieting to lose weight.

This concept explains why people will make decisions they know aren’t the best for them in the long-term even though they provide immediate benefits. Whether the decision focuses on health and fitness, finances, or even business decisions, they are often influenced by the pain and pleasure factor. Furthermore, the perception of what will bring them joy or pain will alter the decisions they make even if the reality is different.

As people learn the different factors that impact their decision-making process, they can learn how to use this information to make better choices. They can utilize their emotions and find motivation to follow sound decisions. While they may be tempted to follow the same path, they are aware of the reasons they make the wrong decisions and can focus instead on making the right ones.



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