In this article I am going to discuss the science of regret. Specifically, I want to focus on regret as a cognitive skill that you can develop, as a tool that you can use to improve decision-making by regulating the intensity.
A 14 to 1 kill ratio. This was the number of Russian MIG’s estimated to have been shot down for every one American F-86 Sabre during the Korean War. While this estimate fluctuated, it was still this disparity that caught the eye of officer John Boyd, a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force (USAF). Boyd wanted to answer the question, “What makes the difference between winning and losing in competitive, high stakes environments?”
How good are you at dancing or singing? Without any sort of objective measure, a common method to try and determine our ability is by using peer comparison. We watch those around us participating in similar activities and estimate our relative performance. The only problem, as discovered by research psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, is that when we use peer comparison to judge our own performance we are most often wrong, and sometimes by a significant margin.
Have you ever had to justify a decision? Have you ever looked back at a decision and wondered what went wrong or how you might improve? Each of us, whether for legal, professional, or personal reasons, have at some point faced these questions. And while many times you might have been able to provide a clear answer, most certainly there were times when you were less than certain. This is where A.P.E. can help, a decision tool that uses a straightforward, three-step model of; assess, plan, and execute, to break down the decision process.
In pursuit of our goals, one of the most painful decisions we can face, is the possibility of failure. And given that we are hardwired to avoid pain, it is not uncommon for us to adopt a philosophy that to quit, to surrender, or to otherwise disengage from a goal is “unthinkable,” or “not an option”. This same philosophy is reinforced in certain cultural beliefs, such as in the power of positive thinking, the law of attraction, or in the unquestioned wisdom of a popular celebrity.
When struggling to achieve a particular goal, consider incorporating the use of pre-decisions to increase your chances of success. In over 94 studies the use of pre-decisions has shown to help get you started, keep you focused, conserve cognitive resources, and if for some reason you do become distracted, pre-decisions can help get you back on the right track.
The power of memory is elusive. It is difficult to quantify, yet it is undeniable that memories are often times what we yearn to create. The goals you set are also almost always tied to creating memories, or at least they should be, as the power of memory can help you maintain your motivation.
Salient vs. Gist Memory
Consider the difference of setting a goal to run the Boston Marathon verses the more general goal to lose ten pounds.
By Dr. Bobby Hoffman
Companies often devote massive resources toward employee education under the assumption that enhancing employee skill sets is beneficial for both the individual and the organization. The corporate investment in employee development is based on the company’s expectation of enhanced skill sets, increased productivity, and a positive relationship between training hours and profitability.
However, training employees comes with a price. One intangible cost is worker negativity and lack of enthusiasm toward training participation. Post-training repercussions include complaints about time away from work and the perception that little personal gain resulted from the developmental experience.
Here are four research-supported strategies that enhance training motivation:
With driverless cars on the horizon there is renewed interest in a classic ethical dilemma, the trolley problem. What decision would you make?
You spot a trolley barreling down the track towards five workers. There is a lever you can pull to switch the trolley over to another track, but there is a worker on this track as well. You quickly assess and other than the lever, there are no other feasible options. It is either one life or five lives. Do you pull the lever?
Richard Feenstra is an educational psychologist, with a focus on judgment and decision making.
Bobby Hoffman is the author of "Hack Your Motivation" and a professor of educational psychology at the University of Central Florida.