White Paper-Nicole Clark

Background:
Some may contemplate that the best approach to making choices should be based off of their first instinct. Many people believe that gut decisions are the best method of coming to conclusions. It may be hard for some people to believe that sleeping is the best way to solve a problem instead of making the decision being wide awake. Sleeping on it is the best way to make a quality decision.

Facts:
1. Sleeping can help the brain weigh the pros and cons of an issue.
2. The mind is distracted from many others problems occurring on a regular basis. Sleeping gives the mind a chance
to focus on the main decision that has to be made.
3. “Sleeping on it” will result in better quality decisions.
4. Instead of making a decision right away, sleeping on it will allow the brain to take in all of the information needed to make the best decision possible.
5. Sleeping helps allow the mind to organize the thoughts and memories that it goes through each day.
6. The more thought put into a decision can make the decision worse.

From CBS News:
Bos, along with Ap Dijksterhuis, Rick B. van Baaren, and Andries van der Leij, of Radboud University Nijmegen, demonstrated this in a study recently published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. The researchers asked participants to choose between different cars. Some of the cars had lots of bells and whistles, but they weren’t that important: cup holders, a badge on the front of the grille, a sunroof. Others had more important attributes, such as excellent safety ratings and gas mileage. Some people were asked to choose a car immediately, while others were literally given time to sleep on it.

The results:

  • Most people chose the “quality cars” (those with good safety records, etc) over the others. Of those people who had to choose immediately, 75 percent chose a quality car.
  • Sleep improved the decision process. Some 90 percent of those who slept before making a choice ended up with a quality car.

From http://www.livescience.com/5820-sleeping-helps.html :

Each week over a period of 6 weeks, the researchers took 352 undergraduates from the University of Amsterdam and asked them to predict the outcome of four different upcoming soccer matches.

Participants expertise about soccer was measured, and then they were asked to predict the result of each of the four upcoming soccer matches.
“[Then] participants were divided into three experimental conditions. In the immediate condition, participants saw the four matches on the computer screen and were asked to provide their answers in 20 s[econds].

“In both the conscious-thought and the unconscious-thought conditions, participants saw the four matches on the computer screen for 20 s[econds] and were told they would have to predict the outcomes later on.

“Conscious-thought participants were told they had an additional 2 min to think about the matches. Unconscious-thought participants were told they would do something else for 2 min and performed a two-back task designed to occupy conscious processing.”

A second experiment was conducted on another group of undergraduates to replicate the findings and understand more about the underlying process.

What did they find?

“These experiments demonstrate that among experts, unconscious thought leads to better predictions of soccer results than either conscious thought or quick, immediate guesses.

“Experiment 2 sheds light on why this may be so: Unconscious thinkers seem to be better at using the appropriate information to arrive at their estimates. Unconscious thinkers who had more accurate knowledge about the single best prediction criterion (world ranking) made better predictions. This was not true for conscious thinkers or for immediate decision makers.”

From http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/27/business/unconscious-mind-sleep-decision:

In an experiment conducted by Loran Nordgren (Kellog School of Management), Bos and Ap Dijksterhuis (Nijmegen University), a group of subjects were asked to choose the best out of 12 apartments, and given six rules to abide by (rent must be no more than $2,000 a month, must allow dogs), in making their choice.

Those given four minutes to consider their decision chose apartments that fit with the rules 75% of the time but selected the best apartment just 29% of the time.

There may be factors that are not easily verbalized, and that’s where your unconscious mind comes along.

Dr Maarten Bos, Harvard Business School
Those who deliberated for two minutes and then were distracted for two minutes chose a rule-abiding apartment 44% of the time, but identified the apartment with the best aggregate of attributes 58% of the time.

Counterintuitive Note: Many believe that making a quick decision is the best way to come to a conclusion. In reality, “sleeping on it” is the best way to make a quality decision.

My working thesis: Sleeping helps make better decisions.

Some topics for smaller papers:

  1. The comparison between the conscious and unconscious mind.
  2. How the mind works and makes decisions when the body is asleep.
  3. Steps for making quality decisions.

Annotated Sources:

1. Why ‘Sleeping On It’ Helps

This article describes the scientific benefits of sleeping before making a decision. It informs us how the brain works while we are sleeping. The article is a good source when describing unconscious thought. It also explains to us a study done regarding unconscious and conscious thinkers.

I plan on using this site as a good source for scientific facts. I also plan on using this source for helping me probe my thesis with the experiment that was conducted. I feel that this source will help me make my paper and thesis easier to understand.

2. A Counter-Intuitive Approach to Making Complex Decisions

I believe that this article will be very helpful in proving my thesis. It informs us of the steps in complex decision making. It is written by reliable sources which proves that this article is well written. They provide an example of how Barack Obama slept before making the decision to have a raid to kill Osama bin Laden.

This article will be very helpful with the recommended steps for decision making. These steps will help prove my thesis and help explain why sleeping before making a decision will be beneficial in the end.

3. Why “Sleeping on it” Will Help You Make a Better Decision

This article also provides a study done with cars. When asked to go home and think about the decision of choosing a new car, most people chose the “better quality” car in the end. This article also provides the steps for decision making. I think that having more examples and studies regarding sleeping on the decision will help strengthen my thesis.

I will use this article as more facts regarding sleeping before making a decision. I believe that this study will help make my thesis more reasonable. I also believe that having more information about the decision making process will make my paper stronger.

4. EbscoHost: Sleep-dependent modulation of affectively guided decision-making.

This article provides studies done on individuals to see if sleep affects decision making. The tests were done by using decks of cards. These people were told to win as much as possible and avoid losing. The sleep group showed a better outcome of wins.

I believe that this article can be used to help prove that sleeping helps improve better decision making. I also think that this essay will help my thesis in the long run with the facts and research done in the experiment.

5. Journal of Consumer Psychology: The benefits of “sleeping on things”: Unconscious thought leads to automatic weighting

I believe that this source will be the most helpful. This article provides many experiments and studies done regarding the benefits of sleep. It also explains how important decisions are made after sleep.

This source will be the most helpful in my paper. I will use the studies and research to help prove my thesis. I will also use the facts in this article to make my thesis more reasonable.

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4 Responses to White Paper-Nicole Clark

  1. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Nicole. This is an intriguing topic. Proof will be difficult because of the difficulty of quantifying “quality decisions.” The best you’ll be able to hope for is to be persuasive and entertaining, but that’s plenty ambitious for a short paper.

    Background:
    This is really background. It’s a wordy version of: “sleeping on” a tough choice is superior to making a gut decision. Or: careful contemplation is better than acting on instinct.

    Facts:
    If there’s science to prove that the mind actually processes material from the waking concerns of the sleeper, that would be awesome and truly surprising (yes, counterintuitive). I’d agree most people think our brains are shut off or at best just messing around making weird dreams. I think I’m reading a lot of repetition here, Nicole, until 6, which sounds like a complete refutation of the other 5.

    Of course, your primary first source will be the actual study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. If you don’t refer to it directly, you’ll have no credibility.

    I’m very intrigued to see the study that divides decision-makers into categories based on their expertise. The idea that “impulse” decisions aren’t really hasty but instead are thoughtful decisions for which the expert has been preparing for years makes intuitive sense to me. If I’m wrong about that, you have yourself another instance of counterintuitivity. (And another layer of complexity to add depth and thoughtfulness to your paper.)

    Your working thesis might be enough, but you could also make it richer by incorporating the findings of the research about whose decisions are made better by “sleeping on them.”

    Subtopics:
    Absolutely I want to hear about how the mind works during sleep. And yes, if you can then connect the steps to making a good decision with the work the brain does while asleep, you’ll be close to a proof.

    However, don’t be hasty to prove anything while you’re researching. Stay open to surprise (it’s the nature of counterintuitive thinking). Prove anything and produce your thesis afterwards.

  2. clarkn92 says:

    Professor Hodges, I have updated my white paper and I am ready to have it graded !

  3. davidbdale says:

    I’m a fan of your topic and the sources you’ve gathered here, Nicole. I want to caution you, though, to eliminate everything that does your readers no good. If you can demonstrate the value of a source by saying: This will prove that X, you’ve defended the source and provided information for your reader. But if you support your choice by saying: This will help my paper by giving me background about stuff that’s important, you haven’t served your reader at all. That’s not fatal in this post, but it would kill an Argument. Most of the blue makes noise about your sources but provides no information about them.

  4. davidbdale says:

    You’ve asked me for recommendations to narrow your topic, Nicole. For starters, you’ve gathered an impressive range of studies here regarding sleep and decision-making, but the effects they study are so different that together they don’t help you draw one clear conclusion.

    For example, the fact that well-rested people perform better at new challenges doesn’t begin to support the idea that they were thinking about yesterday’s problem while they were sleeping, so you can’t conclude that “sleeping on it” made them better card players today. (That’s like saying eating apples in my dreams made me a better orange sorter today. 🙂 )

    You might want to read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink for a clear explanation of what’s going on in the soccer expert study. The reason some people need to “sleep on it” while others can make good snap judgments is that the better observers aren’t actually making snap judgments; they’re making drawing quick conclusions from a lifetime of experience.

    You need to choose the one study that intrigues you most and write an analysis of what it concludes, Nicole. They all come to very dubious conclusions, at least as you’ve described them. We should discuss what other conclusions might be equally well supported by just one of these studies. (The others will still be useful to your paper, but in support roles.) I won’t advise you which one to select, but I will help you focus your attention on it once you’ve chosen. We can start today.

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