Entries in Decision Making (3)


Reduce Dumb Decisions by Thinking in a Foreign Language

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- People who think problems through in a foreign language -- and it doesn’t matter which one -- make more rational decisions and are more apt to take smart risks, especially in the financial realm, according to a recent study in the journal Psychological Science.

Left to follow their gut instincts, people are naturally loss-averse, sometimes myopically so, and often pass up favorable opportunities as a result, says Boaz Keysar, a psychologist at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study.

“Imagine I offer you $100, or we flip a coin and if it’s heads, you get $200, and if it’s tails, you get nothing,” Keysar says.  “Most people would say, ‘I’ll take the $100 and not risk getting nothing.  Ninety-nine percent of people would do that, even if I offer $2,200 or nothing.  We have an emotional reaction to a definite, immediate gain.”

But consider the proposal in Korean, French, Spanish, Japanese -- any non-native tongue -- and the aversion to losses diminishes, and our willingness to take risks changes, Keysar and his research team found.

“A foreign language is less emotionally connected than our native tongue, and distances you,” says Keysar, who, even after 25 years in the United States, says he still “operates differently” in English than in his native Hebrew.

“A non-native language takes you away cognitively and slows you down, especially if you’re not that skilled in it,” he says.

As counterintuitive as that seems, it’s a nice boost for the language slackers.

“The less proficient you are in a second language, the more you’ll deliberate over decisions,” Keysar says, “and your choices benefit from such deliberation.  It’s like you become somewhat of a different person.”

In one of six experiments to gauge just how different, Keysar and colleagues enlisted 54 University of Chicago students who were native English speakers but had been studying Spanish.  They gave each student $15 in $1 bills to make 15 separate bets in a coin toss.  In each toss, they could either pass up the bet and keep the dollar, or risk losing it for the possibility of getting an extra $1.50 if they won the toss, or nothing if they lost. 

These were advantageous bets, Keysar explains, as statistically, the students stood to come out ahead if they took all 15 bets.

While the students who considered the wager in Spanish took the bet 71 percent of the time, those who thought it through in English were willing to wager only 54 percent of the time.

“Bear in mind that we gave them the $15.  It’s not as if it was even their own money,” Keysar says.  “But in the foreign language, they were not as motivated by fear.”´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Most Women With Breast Cancer Want a Role in Medical Decisions

Comstock/Jupiterimages(NEW YORK) -- Breast cancer patients aren't getting the control over their own bodies they would like, new research finds.

Almost 227,000 women will get breast cancer this year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. Now a study from Virginia Commonwealth University published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology online finds that two-thirds of early-stage breast cancer patients want to have a role in decisions about their medical treatment.
In a survey of 683 women with breast cancer in five countries, only 28 out of 100 said they wanted to leave treatment decisions to their doctors. But 46 out of 100 said their doctors ended up making the final decisions anyway.
On the other hand, women who had more involvement where their breast cancer treatment was concerned were less conflicted over the final decision and more satisfied with that decision. About a third of the women wanted to give doctors a final say over treatment decisions.
According to one expert, when there are multiple reasonable treatment options for early-stage breast cancer women will usually choose participatory decision making.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Making Surrogate Treatment Decisions Can Take Its Toll

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BETHESDA, Md.) -- When crisis strikes and a person is no longer able to make their own medical decisions, spouses, adult children, siblings and others find themselves in the role of surrogate decision-makers, trying to make the best, yet often difficult, decisions for their loved ones.  Studies have shown that the critical role of the surrogate decision-maker can be incredibly stressful.

For the first time, a study has systematically examined on a large scale the psychological after-effects of decision making on surrogates.  Researchers at the National Institute of Health reviewed 40 published articles providing data on 2,832 surrogates who were surveyed several months to years after making treatment decisions, including end-of-life decisions.

At least one-third of the surrogates experienced negative effects including stress and anxiety, and these effects were often substantial and lasted for months or years. But surrogates that knew the patient’s wishes – if, for example, the patient had a living will – suffered less stress than surrogates acting without advance directive.

The findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio