“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” -Herbert Simon

Would you rather have more information or less when you are making a decision?

Surprisingly, when college admissions counselors are given tons of information about students they are actually worse at predicting the students’ college grades than when they just know SAT scores and GPA.

The same thing is true for managers, doctors, and stock analysts. Having more information often actually leads to worse decisions.

Essentially, the problem is that our brains have limited processing power and when we try to consider too much information at the same time it becomes difficult to focus on what is most important.

Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert has found that the best way to decide whether you will enjoy something is simply to find someone similar to you who has done that thing and ask whether they liked it. If you think about it this is exactly what we do when we consult reviews before choosing a restaurant instead of doing research on who the chef is and where the produce is sourced from and all of that. Two simple pieces of information, the number of stars and the number of reviews, can tell you a lot.


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