You may think you are being prudent in taking the time to gather as much information as possible before making up your mind, but a new study finds that people consume far less information than expected before making judgments and decisions.Whether buying a new car, hiring a job candidate or getting married, people assume they can and will use more information to make their decisions than they actually end up using, according to research from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
“Sometimes people need a lot of information to get an accurate reading, and sometimes people don’t need much information at all to get an accurate reading,” said Assoc. Prof. Ed O’Brien of Chicago Booth. “The key insight revealed by our research is that it is hard to understand in advance which is which—people generally think that more information will be better, even when more information simply goes unused.”
In the era of Google and Facebook, people may believe that exchanging ever-more information will foster better-informed opinions and perspectives when the reality is people are making snap judgments without even begin aware of it, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. O’Brien co-authored the paper with Nadav Klein, who is a postdoctoral scholar at the Harris School of Public Policy.
In a series of seven studies, participants overvalued long-term product trials, overpaid for longer access to information, and overworked to impress others, failing to realize that extra information wouldn’t actually inform anyone’s judgment.
“In our studies, participants thought they would withhold judgment and await a lot of evidence before making up their minds, but in reality, they cast judgment right when the evidence came in,” said O’Brien, whose research examines how people perceive and experience change.
In one study, researchers asked all participants to drink …