When is the best time to make a decision and more importantly, when should we not make decisions.
According to Roy Baumeister and John Tierney, we should make decisions when we aren’t fatigued.
In their 2011 book, Willpower: The Greatest Human Strength, Baumeister, a social psychologist, and Tierney, a science writer, describe the results of a study of parole boards at an Israeli prison. The board approved prisoner paroles 70 percent of the time in the morning, but only 10 percent of the time in the afternoon.
Even controlling for other factors which helped create the results (such as different types of prisoners getting different time slots, etc.), what caused the discrepancy?
“The mental work of ruling on case after case, whatever the individual merits, wore them down,” they write.
The researchers maintain that factors such as differing energy or glucose levels (which vary by time of day) impact our willingness and ability to engage in mental decision making.
With this in mind, many professions (legal, corporate, investment, medical) should decide to skew work time and shift decision tasks to earlier in the day.
Or maybe we should just bring back siestas.