Three findings about decision-making under stress

Attorneys in corporations often feel under stress so it is useful to understand more about how stress affects decisions. A number of points come out of an article in Acad. Mgt. J., July 2005 at 497. Time pressures seem to alter the behavior of decision-makers by narrowing how much attention they devote to all the information available. It doesn’t mean when quickness is paramount that it degrades the decision-making process, it means people spend less time on information search.

Second, “there is little evidence that the stress response itself – or its sequelae (e.g., arousal) – degrades the decision-making process.” To the contrary, some adrenaline boosts concentration and decisiveness. Boredom may cause sloppy judgment more than electric alertness.

Last, “rather than impairing the effectiveness of the decision-making process, high job demands should be seen as increasing the difficulty of the decision task itself.” Hard calls are hard calls so its misleading to foist errors made making them on stress. The tough judgment call is difficult (See my post of May 18, 2007: stress and pressure with 7 references; and June 11, 2008: stress with 18 references.).

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