Would you rather have a Monet print or a silly cat poster? When college students were given this choice in a study by Timothy Wilson, 95% chose the Monet. However, Wilson then gave a second group of students the same choice after they first filled out a detailed questionnaire about why they liked and disliked each poster. The students in group 2 no longer preferred the Monet.
When Wilson followed up a few weeks later, 75% of the students with cat posters regretted their decision while none of the ones with a Monet did.
The students in this study, when they thought about it, were able to come up with more reasons to like the cat poster (e.g., it is funny and has nice colors) and they essentially talked themselves into making the wrong choice.
The same thing has been found for other products, including houses, and even for potential dating partners; deliberating longer and thinking about why you like one thing and not another actually leads you to make a worse decision in the long run.
So while the unexamined life may not be worth living, don’t examine it too closely. Resist the urge to explain your tastes and preferences. It is OK to like things because you just like them. There doesn’t have to be a reason.
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