Skip to content

Irrational time allocation in decision-making

I absolutely love this first one – it’s an academic paper and the abstract is very academic (WORDY) but the gist is this:

We spend too much time on decisions where the differences are really small.

Should I bulk buy tomato sauce at Costco or by the jar at my local store. The difference between the two decisions is mere cents.

But we don’t shop around for car insurance or mortgage loans or “big” things. And that’s a huge mistake because we’re spending our time on things that, ultimately, will matter very little at the cost of spending time on things that do.

Irrational time allocation in decision-making [The Royal Society of Publishing] – “Empirical evidence suggests that in many ecologically relevant situations, decision difficulty and the relative reward from making a correct choice, compared to an incorrect one, are inversely linked, implying that it is optimal to use relatively less time for difficult choice problems. This applies, in particular, to value-based choices, in which the relative reward from choosing the higher valued item shrinks as the values of the other options get closer to the best option and are thus more difficult to discriminate.” The gist is that we spend too much time on a choice where the two options are pretty close in value.

My Twelve Rules for Life [Russ Roberts] – ““Whoever has the most toys, wins” is not one of my twelve rules for life. There are many things that are more important than accumulating material well-being, especially when you’re young and a little tougher. Take the job that uses your skills and that enhances those skills over the job that pays more. And take the job that makes you feel good about what you’re accomplishing for others over the one that doesn’t.”

How an Iowa Man Cracked the Lottery [Artful Living] – “His boss, an Iowa deputy attorney general named Thomas Miller, was retiring in July 2014 after nearly three decades of prosecuting everything from murder to fraud. He had hired Sand four years earlier and made him the youngest prosecutor in a nine-attorney team that handled challenging cases all over the state. Now, Miller was offloading cases to colleagues. This one, having to do with a suspicious lottery ticket worth $16.5 million, was full of dead ends. Investigators didn’t even know if a crime had been committed. The most tantalizing pieces of evidence were on a DVD: two grainy surveillance clips from a gas station. Sand slid the disc into his laptop and pressed play.” This story is so circuitous but so much fun to read. Also, amazing how much work went into tying everything together once they started tugging on the thread. 🙂