Information Overload doesn’t aid Decision Making

Our ability to make good decisions are not hampered for the lack of information, on the contrary, John Payne professor at Duke Institute for Brain Science, argues it’s information overload.

The most common results of this excess information are:

  1. Decision avoidance or procrastination
  2. Selection of the default (for instance staying with what you have always done before or maintaining the status quo)
  3. Reverting to simple heuristics and using less information or using it in a less complex way (for instance: is it acceptable or not).

Ways to deal with this as outlined by John:

Firstly, the providers of the information should aim for “cognitive fluency” – how well the information is presented visually; and “emotional fluency” – how well you are able to interpret the information.

Secondly, you should try and get in touch with your values and objectives in taking the decision before you even starts examining the information provided.

He demonstrates good use of visual information in the video by referring to a display notice detailing how environmentally friendly is a certain car.

One area John briefly touches on, but is worth considering in more detail, is “choice architecture” that is how the decision is put across, including what is the default.  Read more about this in the article Information Overload and Decision Making, by Simon Gifford


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Laminin Solutions is all about optimising information management and connecting different solutions within a business.  Through consolidating information and document flow with powerful easy to use and configurable software tools, Laminin Solutions sets the information in the business free from the boundaries of individual systems. Our focus is to improve the productivity of your business whilst reducing the cost to produce and use information.

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