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From thinking too little to thinking too much: a continuum of decision making



Due to the sheer number and variety of decisions that people make in their everyday lives—from choosing yogurts to choosing religions to choosing spouses—research in judgment and decision making has taken many forms. We suggest, however, that much of this research has been conducted under two broad rubrics: The study of thinking too little (as with the literature on heuristics and biases), and the study of thinking too much (as with the literature on decision analysis). In this review, we focus on the different types of decision errors that result from both modes of thought. For thinking too little, we discuss research exploring the ways in which habits can lead people to make suboptimal decisions; for thinking too much, we discuss research documenting the ways in which careful consideration of attributes, and careful consideration of options, can do the same. We end by suggesting that decision makers may do well, when making any decision, to consider whether they are facing a ‘thinking too much’ or ‘thinking too little’ problem and adjust accordingly. WIREs Cogn Sci 2011 2 39–46 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.90

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