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Study finds 66% Decide Against People Who Hesitate
Madelaine Claire Weiss, LICSW, MBA, BCC -- MIndOverMatters Madelaine Claire Weiss, LICSW, MBA, BCC -- MIndOverMatters
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Washington, DC
Monday, December 13, 2021


Table of Contents

A Proverb You Know

He who hesitates is lost. You know that proverb, but did you know that He was actually a She, originating in a play by Joseph Addison in 1713.

You can decide for yourself how the female decider in this proverb morphed male over time. But that would be a rabbit hole for us here, and what I really want to talk about is DECIDING.

To Live is To Decide

More and more, I am asking…what is life if not a series of decisions we make throughout the course of our lives, 35,000 of them every day, as I have posted before:

Of the 35,000 “remotely conscious” decisions we make every day, 226.7 of them are about food alone. That 226.7 seems low to me and other people I know (I asked them). Plus, we also have to decide:

    • What to wear for which part of what day
    • What tasks we will plan to accomplish
    • Who we will engage with socially, to do what
    • How much money to save, where to save it, how to spend it, where to donate it
    • What to do for work, where to do it, how to do it
    • Whether to have children, how many, where they go to school, who they play with
    • Whether, when, how often to call your mother
    • Whether to take the umbrella today
    • On and on it goes, with no end in sight, ever…

And then there are the really huge decisions; like whether and whom to marry, to stay or go in love or work. And, let’s say you decide to join the Great Resignation and leave that job you were once so excited about but aren’t anymore. You may still have to decide whether it Is better to ride out the security of the job you have while you build that gig you have been dreaming about for years, or leave the job now to throw yourself 100% all in with the new.

Not All About You

Typically, it’s not all about you, nor only up to you. Typically, there are stakeholders. That is, there are other people at home, at work, in the world of investors…whose buy in you need to support your decision to make your big change.

In love or in work, it is kind of hard to ‘marry’ someone without asking that person (or persons) if they would like to decide to ‘marry’ you too.

This study suggests people are watching you to decide for themselves whether to follow your lead, and that one of the things they are looking at is how much you hesitated before you came to your own conclusion about what decision to make.

Deciding Fast or Slow?

I believe I have already written ad nauseum, but will say here again, that one common decision-making mistake is the idea that the harder it is to decide, the longer we should take to do so.

Decisions are hard when the threat and/or opportunity, either way you go, is approximately equal. The example of Buridan’s Ass makes the point that the Ass died trying to decide between two equally attractive alternatives.

The early bird catches the worm, another proverb we know, and the competition doesn’t mind at all that we are hesitating while they are flying. On the other had, it should be said that sometimes your hesitancy can free people to break from the groupthink, which could also be a very good thing for them and for you.

And yet, if we do want people to follow our lead, with this study of 72 college students having to guess how many balls labelled A or B were in a bag, we learn that displays of conviction over hesitancy can help that along.

The authors of the study grant this may not necessarily be a universal rule. For some kinds of decisions, more careful decision making might inspire more confidence than not. And, certainly no one is recommending carelessness in any event.

Still, according to this Science Daily reporting on Krajbich and Frydman, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business:

The findings have implications for group behavior in politics, finance, fashion — any situation where there might be herd behavior, Krajbich said. “Even if it appears at first that everyone is following the same trend, hesitation may reveal that they are not all on the same page,” he said. “If people start to notice that others are hesitating before joining the herd, that can stall the momentum or shift it entirely…. For example, if a person sees their friends quickly choose to get a vaccine for COVID-19, that may make them more comfortable making the same choice, Krajbich said.

I, for one, like to go fast, just so I’m not endlessly bogged down dragging around whatever it is. What about you? Have you ever asked yourself whether you tend to decide fast or slow? Let us know.

Warm wishes,


Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

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Name: Madelaine Claire Weiss
Group: MindOverMatters, LLC
Dateline: Washington, DC United States
Direct Phone: 202-285-8644
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