Brief Mindfulness Improves Decision Making

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on May 20, 2014

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Before you make your next important decision, consider enjoying 15 minutes of mindful meditation. People who take such a break are more likely to make smarter choices, according to a study reported in Psychological Science (2014; doi: 10.1177/0956797613503853). “We found that a brief period of mindfulness meditation can encourage people to make more rational decisions by considering the information available in the present moment, while ignoring some of the other concerns that typically exacerbate the ‘sunk cost bias,’” said lead study author Andrew C. Hafenbrack, doctoral candidate at INSEAD, an international graduate business school, in an Association for Science news release.

Sunk cost bias is the tendency to continue to do a behavior based on an initial decision, even when the behavior is not leading to the desired result. "Most people have trouble admitting when they were wrong," said Hafenbrack. "They don't want to feel wasteful or that their initial investment was a loss. Ironically, this kind of thinking often causes people to waste or lose more resources in an attempt to regain their initial investment or try to break even.”

“The debiasing effect of mindfulness meditation in sunk-cost situations was due to a two-step process,” said another study author, Zoe Kinias. “First, meditation reduced how much people focused on the past and future, and this psychological shift led to less negative emotion. The reduced negative emotion then facilitated their ability to let go of sunk costs."

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA’s mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author base...