A Moment of Science

Why Don’t We Stop Friends From Making Awful Decisions?

Have you ever let a friend make a very bad decision?

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Photo: Kaworu Koneru (flickr)

Why do we let friends pick up the hammer even though their ideas are ridiculous?

Did you know that studies have shown that unsound thinking can sort of pass from one person to the next?

Building A House

Say a friend has bought a house with the intent of fixing it up and then selling it. It’s one of those deals where they keep sinking money into it, doing repair after repair, renovation upon renovation. But, of course, things keep falling apart, and you friend doesn’t know what they are doing. But they keep throwing good money after bad.  In other words, they are making some very bad decisions.  Would you stop them?

You would like to think you would, however, according to a few studies, because you know your friend, there’s a good chance you’ll actually encourage them to keep going.

Why?

Because it’s like you internalize their hopes and desires and aren’t able to be objective. It’s almost as though you’ve caught their fever for flipping the house. So you end up justifying their bad decisions instead of pointing out their flaws.

But if you didn’t know your friend and had no personal connection, you’d be more able to give objective advice.

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