Should I or shouldn’t I
So, you are faced with the choice between a cookie and a piece of fruit for dessert. Looking at that cookie, you can almost taste how good it will be. Well, guess what. That cookie won’t taste as good as you thought it would. Additionally, you may not even feel that good after you eat it. This is because of the concept of ‘impact bias.’ Impact bias tells us that we will over estimate the amount of pleasure something will give us. We also don’t take in to account how we will feel after making a specific choice before we make our decision.
This leads us to two helpful ideas for making choices that are congruent with the goals we set for ourselves. First, recognize that we will over shoot the pleasure a hedonistic choice will give us. Secondly, think about how you will feel after each of the choice options you are considering. Practically speaking, the next time you are faced with doing that tedious piece of administrative work you need to complete and talking with colleagues at the proverbial water fountain, recognize that the pleasure of talking with your colleagues will be puffed up in your mind. Moreover, it may feel like you have just wasted time ‘shooting the breeze’ with colleagues but may feel great to complete your mandatory administrative task and get to check it off your ‘to do’ list.
Impact bias is a great reminder that what we think we want doesn’t ultimately deliver. Thinking about impact bias may help us stay focused on what we need to do and may ultimately lead us to feel good, too.