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  • “Recursive Self-Doubt” and Decisionmaking

    Posted by Jonathan on October 23rd, 2007 (All posts by )

    A very insightful post.

    Rob’s argument also partly explains why individuals tend to become increasingly risk-averse with age, since most people know more than they did when they were younger and can therefore more easily rationalize inaction. Perhaps, then, older people tend to be too risk-averse, and might accomplish more if they were more aware of this cognitive bias.

    (via David Foster)


    5 Responses to ““Recursive Self-Doubt” and Decisionmaking”

    1. Fred Says:

      Is there a survivor bias here? If risk averse is the path to survival you would expect more risk averse types among the oldsters.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      I don’t know. In terms of business or career decisions, perhaps not, since failure usually doesn’t get anyone killed.

    3. Ginny Says:

      This is a nicely expressed post and helps us all reach better self-understanding. Pausing isn’t bad – I’ve only accumlated some common sense lately.

      Thinking as he does in a kind of meta-process is interesting but likely to make us “overthink” from a distance that categorizes our options rather than in themselves (he notes that). Still, it is a useful corrective.

      Over “thinking” is a great theme in modern lit – the solipsistic voyeur who is too risk averse to, well, do anything (think Prufrock or someone in about any James work). Sure they know too much but they don’t feel enough, they don’t have a sense that a potential future is worth the gamble. They are already old – they can’t imagine broader and brighter horizons.

    4. david foster Says:

      Some links for those interested in decision-making processes:

      The Smart-Talk Trap

      The Logic of Failure (book review)

      Decision-Making in Organizations

    5. John Jay Says:

      In quantitative types, this leads to “analysis paralysis”.

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