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The Cost of Decision Fatigue

Idea posted: September 2021
  • Learning & Behaviour

Decision fatigue, a mental state that occurs after extended periods of making streams of decisions, influences decision makers to favour less-taxing “default” decisions. A new study, based on data from the banking sector, reveals the cost of such decisions, highlighting the importance of addressing decision fatigue. 

Idea #799
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Triple Portrait of Cardinal de Richelieu, Philippe de Champaigne, 1642 (Courtesy: National Gallery, London)

How Bringing Self to Work Inspires Ethical Behaviour

Idea posted: December 2018
  • Learning & Behaviour

People have different ‘selves’: the same person might be a politician, a grandparent, an avid golfer, and an aspiring novelist, for example. New research shows that if you believe that how you act in one self reflects who you are in all your selves — for example, being a ruthless politician makes you a ruthless person as a whole — you are less likely to commit immoral acts. This research offers new evidence that encouraging employees to bring their personal selves to work encourages moral behaviours and ethical decisions in the workplace.

Idea #722
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Traders on the New York Stock Exchange, 1963 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Testosterone Leads to Overpricing on Wall Street

Idea posted: June 2016
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

New research shows that testosterone increases the over-confident and over-optimistic impulses of male traders, resulting in higher prices and more frequent bubbles. It also reveals, in general, that we are not always as rational as we believe.

Idea #608
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Contemplation, Ghassan Salman Faidi, 2009 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Mindfulness Leads to Better Decisions

Idea posted: September 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Faced with a decision, we are more likely to take the path we want rather than the path we should. The reason is that the want choice is quickly identified through assumptions, easy categorizations or past experiences; the should choice only emerges when time and effort is made to consider new situations or alternative attributes. Increasing the state of conscious awareness known as ‘mindfulness’ during the decision making process will allow decision makers to see the better choice… before it’s too late.

Idea #438
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Robert Maxwell, media tycoon and owner of Mirror Group Newspapers, 1991 in London. Maxwell died in November 1991 (Copyright: Shutterstock)

The Curse of the Narcissistic CEO

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

In theory, strategic decision-making is a democratic process in which the knowledge and previous experience of all executives is brought to bear. In practice, it doesn’t always work that way. A recent study finds that more narcissistic CEOs fail to pool knowledge effectively, putting themselves and their own experiences first. This underlines the importance of checks and balances on CEO power.

Idea #404
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Beating Bias through Mindfulness Meditation

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Mindfulness meditation, the practice of clearing one’s mind of all other thoughts but the ‘present moment’, partly by focusing on the physical sensation of breathing, has long been associated with personal feelings of ‘wellbeing’ and positivity. But it has wider, more practical, benefits. New research suggests that leaders who use the technique are more likely to be resistant to the decision-making curse of ‘sunk cost bias’ — and, consequently, more likely to create value.

Idea #225
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Officer cadets from Serbia's Military Academy, Belgrade, Serbia, 2010 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Social Influences on Decision-Making: Neuroscience Insights

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Decision-making is often strongly influenced by social factors, and research in the nascent field of neuroeconomics (which crosses the disciplines of psychology, marketing, economics and neuroscience) is helping to explain why. ‘In-group conformity’ is mediated by signals in the brain associated with emotion and reward and can be stimulated by the so-called ‘love hormone’, oxytocin. Neurobiological insights like these raise important questions for strategy design — in both the private and public sectors. 

Idea #184
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Samurai at a Waterfall, 19th Century Japanese Woodblock Print, Fuji Arts

Grapes of Wrath: How Self Control Leads to Anger

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Does making a healthy food choice make us angry? In an important piece of consumer research, a relationship is found to exist between exerting self-control, and a preference toward ‘themes of anger’ in e.g. entertainment. This mismatch - getting irritated by our own self-control - has far-reaching implications for marketers and policy-makers as we try to further understand consumer behaviour.

Idea #034
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Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life, 1913, Mack Sennett & Mabel Normand

Matching Decisions to Decision-Makers: via Our Testosterone Levels

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Hormones can play a role in decision-making, particularly testosterone, which when present in high levels can lead to more utilitarian decisions being made. In a study where participants were made to answer philosophical questions involving morality, high-testosterone individuals were consistently more willing to endorse a difficult decision, if there was some ‘greater good’ involved. On the other hand, this made them more likely to violate a moral norm in doing so. So can we match decisions to decision-makers based on an individual’s chemical make-up?

Idea #043
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Red flag on the beah

Avoiding Bad Decisions: ‘Red Flags’ and Reflection

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Decision-making can be understood better with an awareness of the brain processes involved in it. There are certain ‘red flag’ conditions that can lead to distortions in judgement, in turn leading to bad decisions being made. The authors provide examples of where this has been the case, and highlight safeguards that can be adopted to avoid them.

Idea #028
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