How Many Daily Decisions Do We Make?

We make thousands of decisions every day and rely on certain strategies to make up our minds.


How many daily decisions do we make?
February 7, 2018

Freedom of choice is an American virtue

As Americans we are proud of the fact that we get to choose our government leaders. We may not always like the choices presented to us on the ballot, but we get to vote. Additionally, as American consumers in a free market economy, we’ve come to expect a lot of choices when it comes to products and services.

For example, which TV service do I use and then once it's hooked up, which channel will I watch? Do I want a regular coffee or a coffee drink? What should I wear to work? Which route do I take to get to work? Do I “like” a friend's post on Facebook? You get the idea. So one might wonder, just how many decisions do we make in a day? (You can decide if you want to keep reading.)

We make thousands of choices every day

Researchers at Cornell University estimate we make 226.7 decisions each day on food alone. And as your level of responsibility increases, so does the multitude of choices you have to make. It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. Each decision, of course, carries certain consequences with it that are both good and bad.

The strategies we use to decide (or not decide)

There are certain decision making styles and strategies that guide the process: 

  1. Impulsiveness — Leverage the first option you are gives and be done. 
  2. Compliance — Choosing with the most pleasing, comfortable and popular option as it pertains to those impacted.
  3. Delegating — Not making the decision yourself, but pushing it off to trusted others. 
  4. Avoidance/deflection — Either avoiding or ignoring decisions in an effort to avoid responsibility for their impact of just simply preventing them from overwhelming you.
  5. Balancing — Weighing the factors involved, studying them and then using the information to render the best decision in the moment.
  6. Prioritizing and Reflecting — Putting the most energy, thought and effort into those decisions that will have the greatest impact. 


The reality is, we utilize a combination of these decision-making strategies in order to cope with the sheer volume of decisions that must be made. The ironic thing is that the decision making strategy that is utilized is actually the first decision to be made.

  

—Frank Graff 

Frank Graff is a producer/reporter with UNC-TV, focusing on Sci Tech Now North Carolina, a weekly science series that airs Tuesdays on UNC-TV. In addition to producing these special segments, Frank will provide additional information related to his stories through this North Carolina Science Now Reporter's Blog!

Related Content:

  • Video: How personal values matter when making choices

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