Everyone makes mistakes. As much as we’d like to be, we’re not perfect. There will always be times that we could only hope that we did the right thing. At the same time, we all make bad decisions — decisions that we thought were right during that time but delivered only disappointment and regrets.

With all the decisions that we run over every day, we always strive to select the best one. But sometimes, even with all our intentions, we choose the wrong one.

We all go through the same decision-making process. We set our goal and what is the value of that goal when we achieve it. And to achieve it, we list down the options. So, what happens in the decision-making process that leads us to bad decisions?

Some reasons why we make bad decisions

Stress

Stress changes how people make decisions. A stressed person changes the way how they view risks and rewards. An article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reviews how, under stress, people pay more attention to the upside of a possible outcome.

This means that while your focus is on the reward of a certain decision, you are blind to its risks, leading to bad decisions.

Biases

Biases filter our experiences and affect the way we understand the world around us, only allowing us to see what we want to see. Instead of examining each option objectively, with biases in our mind, we, more often than not, completely disregard a perfectly good choice.

Number of Choices

Let’s put it this way. You need a new top. So, you go to the mall. And when you enter the mall, voila! There are thousands of tops to choose from! And while variety is good, but to actually choose one out of many is mentally tiring. In the end, it’s either of the three: (1) you were able to purchase a perfectly good top after a long time, time that you could’ve used for other things; (2) you bought more than what you need; or (3) you didn’t buy one because you couldn’t choose.

Each choice we make chips away some percentage of our mental energy. If there are a lot of choices, our mental energy drains faster that sometimes, we just choose an option for the sake of ending the decision-making process.

Distractions

It’s not like making decisions is the only thing you do throughout the day. A lot of things demand your attention, and while this isn’t a bad thing, the time that you should spend carefully examining each choice may be eaten by these distractions.

There will always be times that we’ll make bad decisions. But, what we could do is to lessen those times. Now that you know the reasons why we make bad decisions, here are the ways to make better ones!

You could also view this video here by TED talks on why do we make bad decisions!