“Decision Fatigue” Taxes Mind, Body

We all suffer from it, yet so few have been able to name it—”decision fatigue,” the exhaustion resulting from having to stress out over making one or more different decisions and not quite being able to figure out what to do. Unless you’re excellent at making snap decisions, this type of exhaustion likely weighs on you every day.

The New York Times reports:

Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. (Sure, tweet that photo! What could go wrong?) The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing. Instead of agonizing over decisions, avoid any choice. Ducking a decision often creates bigger problems in the long run, but for the moment, it eases the mental strain. You start to resist any change, any potentially risky move — like releasing a prisoner who might commit a crime. So the fatigued judge on a parole board takes the easy way out, and the prisoner keeps doing time.

Decision fatigue is the newest discovery involving a phenomenon called ego depletion, a term coined by the social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister in homage to a Freudian hypothesis. Freud speculated that the self, or ego, depended on mental activities involving the transfer of energy. He was vague about the details, though, and quite wrong about some of them (like his idea that artists “sublimate” sexual energy into their work, which would imply that adultery should be especially rare at artists’ colonies). Freud’s energy model of the self was generally ignored until the end of the century, when Baumeister began studying mental discipline in a series of experiments, first at Case Western and then at Florida State University.

What do you think—what role does decision fatigue play in our daily lives?

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3 thoughts on ““Decision Fatigue” Taxes Mind, Body

  1. Son

    I agree…..making the decision to have no decision is the worst……..even worse, when you realize years later that your decision NOT to make a decision was the worst decision that you’ve make in your life!

  2. Quinn ext.5484quinn

    not making a decision is a decision within itself, nature will take its course and life will go on.
    making a decision without money in your pocket can be next to impossible, so why sweat it?
    if one has a process in which they can make a decision life is indeed easier.
    list making. weighing out the issuse on paper so you can get it off your mind and actuall look at what options you have.
    when one speaks of the prison system, going to the board and having someone else make a decison about your life based on the fact they find it easier to just keep the person in prison because they are tired is not reality based, it is about money as the prison system is about greed and each person in there is a way to creat jobs and keep the prison system in business.
    i understand how decisions can give one anxiety, that is why we have council – like our readers.
    they get to spin the options and based on the spiritual sciences the psychic readers can help to clear out what is not needed and focus on the positive action needed to make the decision a positive one.


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