“Sometimes we want what we want even if we know it’s going to kill us.” ―Donna Tartt

“Wanting” and “liking” rely on two completely different brain systems. Thus, it is possible to want something you don’t like or to like something you don’t want. However, we often mistakenly think of wanting and liking as the same thing.

In his classic paper, “If Money doesn’t make You Happy then You Probably aren’t Spending it Right“, Daniel Gilbert shows that comparison shopping, or doing research before buying something, can actually lead you to make a worse decision. You may decide you want the car with more horsepower and a better sound system but perhaps comfortable seats really would have made you happier in the long run.

The problem is that when we research what product to buy we use our wanting system. But once we actually purchase it we use the liking system to determine how happy it makes us.

Studies show that, instead of trying to collect more information before making a decision, you might be better off skipping the “comparison shopping” and instead just going with your gut; which product do you naturally like better?

And, as we have discussed previously, you also might be better off if you don’t try to explain your decisions to anyone.


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