How Stress Harms Your Decision Making Skills

Stress makes you tune out negative critiques and consequences leading to bad decision making.Are you a super busy person?  Always have important business plus a thousand things to do in your personal life?  Well, we have some bad news for you.  You’re probably not doing the best you could, not for lack of effort, but due to the negative effects stress wreaks on a person’s problem solving and decision making skills.

Psychologists Mara Mather and Nicole R. Lighthall found that stress creates bad decision makers due to an imbalance between reception to positive and negative criticism.  But it’s not pessimism driving bad decisions under stress, reports Jezebel.  Stress actually forces us, as humans, to “focus too much on the upside of our decisions.”

Says Mather, “Stress seems to help people learn from positive feedback and impairs their learning from negative feedback.”  As Jezebel notes, it’s sort of a, “any port in the storm effect.”  When we’re stressed, we’re looking for any option to close the process.  Therefore, you’re not properly weighing the positive and negative aspects of a decision.

What have we learned from their findings?  Calm down.  Although they noted that men and women react differently to stress (men take more risks, women take fewer) both strategies are less than ideal compared to calm, clear-headed decision making.

Photo Credit: Graur Razvan Ionut

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