Improving decision making through mindfulness

N. Karelaia
Jochen Matthias Reb, Singapore Management University


Decisions shape personal and organizational outcomes, and both researchers and practitioners look for ways to enhance decision making prowess. In this chapter, we explore whether and how mindfulness might help at various stages of decision making. We suggest that mindfulness may help notice when a decision should or could be made, increase goal awareness, enhance consistency of the decision with one’s fundamental values, facilitate option generation, reduce the sunk cost bias, and help recognize ethical challenges of decisions. We further argue that while mindfulness may diminish the scope of information search, it may also improve the quality of information used to make a decision. It may also reduce confirmation bias and overconfidence, allow decision makers to better differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information, reduce reliance on stereotypes, help appreciate uncertainty and productively deal with it, and reduce illusory pattern detection. Furthermore, mindfulness is likely to facilitate resolving trade-offs and help effectively reconcile intuition with analysis thereby reducing procrastination. Finally, mindful decision makers are more likely to learn to make better decisions over time because they are more open to feedback and less prone to misinterpret it by making self-serving attributions. The potential of mindfulness to improve judgment and decisions provides many promising opportunities for future research