Divorce: Making Good Decisions

November 8, 2011

I recenty heard Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist, speak on the way people make decisions.  Based on his extensive research, it turns out that people only think they are in control of making their own decisions. In truth, the decisions we make are heavily influenced by the environment in which the decision is made. 

So, for example, when asked to “opt into” a 401k plan, most people are apt to stay out.  But, if the choice is to “opt out” of that 401k, they stay in.  Inertia, perhaps.  Or maybe we just assume that the default choice has been selected by someone who knows that it’s really the better choice.  And if there are too many choices, we are likely to make no choice at all.

The irrationality of decision making.  According to Ariely, the irrational way people make decisions is actually quite predictable.  Rome or Paris?  Hard to decide.  Rome without coffee v. Paris  The majority had no trouble choosing Paris.  Was it just about the coffee?  Ariely says that having bad options leads us inevitably to choose another option without really considering the significant merits of the choices.

So what’s the relationship between Ariely’s research and divorce?  He concludes that we should not assume we each make good decisions – especially when we are under an emotional strain, as in a divorce situation.  Ariely says we should develop a healthy skepticism about our own instincts and seek out advice from trained professionals such as attorneys and financial professionals.  And for the professionals who help shape the choices people make — well, creating the right list of options can influence the outcome.

For more information about mediation and collaborative divorce, contact Risa A. Kleiner, Esq. at 609.951.2222 or risa@rkleinerlaw.com

 

 


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