People Make Decisions Based on Feelings, Study Says

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. gut feeling / gʌt ˈfi lɪŋ / (n) – a strong feeling about something without logical reasons

    Although it’s really hot and sunny, I have a gut feeling that it will rain.

  2. run counter to (someone/something) / rʌn ˈkaʊn tər tʊ / (idiom) – to be the opposite of something

    Many citizens are protesting because the politician’s policies run counter to what he promised during his election campaign.

  3. calculated / ˈkæl kyəˌleɪ tɪd / (adj) – carefully planned

    Strategy board games like chess require calculated moves.

  4. discern / dɪˈsɜrn / (v) – to understand or notice something through effort

    Infants don’t have the ability to discern right from wrong.

  5. foolproof / ˈfulˌpruf / (adj) – describing something that cannot go wrong

    Fingerprint recognition is a foolproof way to secure personal electronic devices, such as smartphones.


Read the text below.

A new study showed that people tend to follow their gut feeling when making decisions.

According to researchers from the Ohio State University, many people are actually aware of which decision will work best. This runs counter to the belief that people usually do not choose the most favorable option because they cannot make calculated decisions. The researchers said that many people actually choose to ignore the best option and tend to rely on their instinct or past experiences instead.

For the study, the researchers asked participants to play a computer game in which identifying patterns could lead to big rewards. By tracking participants’ computer mouse movements, the researchers were able to see if they could pick up on those patterns. Based on data, 56 out of 57 participants were able to discern the pattern with the highest chance of success. However, this pattern was not foolproof; it only worked 60-90% of the time.

After analyzing the results, the researchers found that the pattern that gave the best rewards was followed by the participants only 20% of the time.

The study did not provide a concrete reason as to why people do not always choose the best option. However, one of its authors said that although most people are capable of making calculated decisions, making a choice based on one’s knowledge of a situation can take a lot of mental energy. As a result, people usually depend on whatever choice got them the highest reward most recently.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think this study will help people become more mindful when making decisions? Why or why not?
• Do you think relying on gut feeling is a good way to make decisions? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you usually feel confident after making a decision? Why or why not?
• How can people make sure that they’re making the right decisions? Discuss.