A study in Israel showed that judges more likely to grant parole right after they take a break than after they’ve been working for a while. (The graph above show favorable decisions vs. the time of day with the circles representing breaks.)
Denzeger thinks that the judges’ behaviour can be easily explained. All repetitive decision-making tasks drain our mental resources. We start suffering from “choice overload” and we start opting for the easiest choice. For example, shoppers who have already made several decisions are more likely to go for the default offer, whether they’re buying a suit or a car. And when it comes to parole hearings, the default choice is to deny the prisoner’s request. The more decisions a judge has made, the more drained they are, and the more likely they are to make the default choice. Taking a break replenishes them.
Studies have shown that you judge positive and negative actions that haven’t happened yet more positively or negatively than actions that have already occurred. So if you don’t want somebody to do something, you might try to make them feel like you’ll never be able to forgive them if they do that thing. But you probably will. Because what’s the point of holding a grudge?
You Are Not So Smart tackles the idea that releasing your anger in a cathartic way reduces stress and makes you more peaceful. It doesn’t. It feels very good to vent, but it makes you more likely to give in to anger in the future. It’s always better to take some time out and cool off.
You Are Not So Smart posted an article on the anchoring effect. The anchoring effect happens when you need to estimate a number of some kind — like a statistic or a price point — and you use some other number for reference, even if there is no real reason to think that other number tells you anything.
This is why you’re more likely to buy a leather jacket for $400 if the price tag originally said $1000. And it apparently also works when you know the anchor number has nothing to do with your estimate. The article recounts a 2006 MIT study where subjects wrote down digits from their social security numbers and then bid on items in an auction. Subjects who wrote down higher (essentially random) numbers bid higher in the auction.