Decisions, decisions! Our lives are full of them, from the small and mundane, such as what to wear or eat, to the life-changing, such as whether to get married and to whom, what job to take and how to bring up our children. We jealously guard our right to choose. It is central to our individuality: the very definition of free will. Yet sometimes we make bad decisions that leave us unhappy or full of regret. Can science help?
Making good decisions requires us to balance the seemingly antithetical forces of emotion and rationality. We must be able to predict the future, accurately perceive the present situation, have insight into the minds of others and deal with uncertainty.
Most of us are ignorant of the mental processes that lie behind our decisions, but this has become a hot topic for investigation, and luckily what psychologists and neurobiologists are finding may help us all make better choices.
Here and bring together some of their many fascinating discoveries in the New Scientist guide to making up your mind.