The cost of changing your mind

People tend to be less satisfied with a decision if they arrived at it after changing their minds – even if the outcome is the same.

Changing one's mind seem to come with a cost, even when one ends up with favourable outcomes. Photo illustration: Colourbox

There is a popular notion that your gut feeling is more often right than wrong. Some think for example that going with the gut feeling in a multiple choice test, will give better scores.

But the stack of studies contradicting this notion is tall, and researchers have dubbed the belief the first instinct fallacy.

This is because revising answers on tests tend to improve scores, and decision reversals as a rule help to improve decisions.

And yet, changing our minds is uncomfortable – it seems like we are designed to be stubborn.

“We feel a stronger sense of regret if we end up with a wrong answer after changing it from a right one, compared with choosing the wrong answer in the first place and sticking to it,” says researcher Geir Kirkebøen.

Changing your mind seems to come with a cost, even when you end up with favourable outcomes.

To test how we feel after changing our minds, Kirkebøen and his colleagues had testees playing games designed to capture real-life decision-making situations.

By freelance journalist Isak Ladegaard
Published Apr. 17, 2012 4:03 PM - Last modified Apr. 17, 2012 4:04 PM