Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cognitive Load

Check this out.
Stanford did a study on decision mechanisms.
Two groups were given a set of numbers to memorize. They were all told to walk down from room 101 to room 102 and recite the numbers.
Group A was given 7 numbers. You probably remember from Psych that this is the biggest chunk most people can remember so it sort of taxes your brain.
Group B was given 2 numbers. It's pretty easy to hold 2 numbers.
Now it gets cool.
En route everyone bumped into a lady with a tray of snacks. She said, "Hey Joe, thank you for your help in this study. To show our appreciation you can have some cake or some fruit salad."
Group A (lots of numbers) takes cake.
Group B (a few numbers) takes fruit.
The theory is something called cognitive load.
When we decide stuff there's a cage match--your emotional mind "Cake me! Cake me now!!" versus your rational mind "Have you thought of the calories..."
I'm trying to see how this factors in to the way I make decisions every day, but if nothing else it's an interesting study.


Post a Comment

<< Home