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Trying to Decide? Forget the Facts and Phone a Friend
Date:3/19/2009

tions based on the guy's profile."

Killingsworth said people simply overvalue the worth of "factual information."

For instance, someone thinking about becoming a lawyer or traveling to Bermuda "might become overly focused on the lawyer's salary or the crime level in Bermuda and run the risk of vastly undervaluing the information provided by people who've actually had the experience you're contemplating," he said.

Dr. Peter A. Ubel, professor of medicine and psychology at the University of Michigan, said the study is well done but would be of limited use in the everyday world. "I'd like to see [similar research] in more realistic domains of life," he said.

Still, Ubel said, the findings suggest that "the things we think should influence our decisions -- like, 'Tell me more about the situation' -- don't always help us."

And in general, he said, "we often do a rotten job of making predictions."

More information

The University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, has more on making decisions.



SOURCES: Matt Killingsworth, graduate student, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; Peter A. Ubel, M.D., professor, medicine and psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.; March 20, 2009, Science


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