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Sunday, March 15, 2020

Slowing Down for Decisions in Crisis

Sensible, but depends on the flow of  risk as well.

Slow Down to Make Better Decisions in a Crisis  by Art Markman in HBR

The news about the spread of COVID-19 is changing fast — and people are trying to make decisions about everything from whether to cancel vacations to how to best protect themselves and their communities. There are several psychological reasons why you may find decision-making difficult right now.

First, there is a looming present threat. The disease is real. Around the world, people are dying from it and it is spreading rapidly enough that there is new news every day. Humans are wired to pay attention to threats, and so this story captures our attention in a way that a distant threat like climate change does not.

Second, there is a lot of uncertainty about the spread of the virus — how many people have it, how quickly it’s moving through communities, how many people will ultimately get it. When it comes to future projections, we’re good at understanding linear trends. We are bad at understanding trends that involve an accelerated growth like an exponential function. At the front end of a bloom in a virus, there will be few cases, but they can grow rapidly. The uncertainty that creates for people increases our attention to it. .... "

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