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Middlesex research suggests flaws in impulsive decision-making

Dr Rodriguez-Lara’s study builds on his existing work on experimental and behavioural economics

People who make quick, impulsive decisions are likely to be wrong according to new research led by Dr Ismael Rodriguez-Lara from Middlesex University’s Business School.

Published in the peer-reviewed journal, Economics Letters, ‘Thinking fast, thinking badly’ investigates human thinking processes through experiments using two incentivised sections and the cognitive reflection test (CRT).

The study is the first to provide evidence that quick answers to the CRT tend to be incorrect while participants who take longer to answer provide the right ones.

The research also demonstrates that impulsive participants tend to complete the test more quickly than reflective ones, who devote more time to each question.

Reflecting on the results of his research, Dr Rodriguez-Lara highlights the fact that we often face situations with many possible answers, but our instinctive one may be wrong.

“Our study shows that only those who take time and reflect will provide the right answer - the rest, even those who rely on intuition, will probably be incorrect,” he said.

Middlesex students will benefit from the wider scope of Dr Rodriguez-Lara’s investigations into human behaviour and decision-making

Economists are increasingly interested in the relationship between fast, automatic and non-conscious thinking as opposed to slow, controlled and conscious choices.

Over 2,300 people participated in the research, with data collated through letters sent to a random sample of the Danish population aged between 18 and 80. Two additional studies were then run in Spain using more than 600 participants.

Learn more about studying economics at Middlesex

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