Importance Of Meditation And Mindfulness When Making Decisions
Whenever you’ve invested tons of time and effort into something that ultimately flops, it can be difficult to simply cut your losses and give it up. Our own stubbornness and desire to avoid feeling wasteful are often the culprits; it’s called sunk-cost bias, and it’s why we continue standing in line for a ride at Disneyland for an exorbitant amount of time even after we’ve spent a ton of time there already (well, I've been here this long). Sticking with it (even when it’s already clearly a failure) can often lead to more problems, despite that often being our natural inclination (I’ve worked too hard on this to go back now).
But researchers from INSEAD and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that mindfulness meditation, or an acute awareness of the present moment, can allow you to make a rational choice when faced with these sunk-cost bias situations.
Mindfulness meditation helps with this in two distinct ways. "First, meditation reduced how much people focused on the past and future, and this psychological shift led to less negative emotion," said researcher Zoe Kinias, assistant professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD. "The reduced negative emotion then facilitated their ability to let go of sunk costs."
The study’s discoveries were published in the journal Psychological Science. In one of the numerous experiments covered in the research, study participants answered online questions about how frequently they focused on the current moment. They also read about numerous circumstances involving sunk-cost scenarios, and answered what they think they would do if they encountered each one.
Researchers discovered a link between stronger focus on the current moment and a heightened awareness of when it’s best to ignore the sunk costs and make a rational choice (which often involved cutting losses).
In other experiments, study participants endured some mindfulness meditation training before reading the sunk-cost scenarios. Researchers also discovered a link between mindfulness and making rational decisions in this secondary experiment.
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