Our daily life is completely crossed by a multitude of the decisions. Some of them are also quite important: deciding which car to buy, choosing the course to enroll in, confessing something to someone or not, etc. Being in the situation of having to make a relevant decision can be a source of anxiety, and we are not always able to deal with these types of emotions.
Many times, instead of taking action and exposing ourselves to the negative consequences of the mistake, we were anchored to the point of imagining possible scenarios that will happen when we behave in one way or another. This psychological state portrays very well a concept that has emerged within decision theory: the paralysis of analysis.
What is Analysis Paralysis?
Defined much above, the paralysis of analysis is a decision-making error that occurs when a person or computer comes to a standstill in the pre-analysis phase of the problem and never manages to implement a concrete action plan.
Pushing it further into the realm of psychology, analytical paralysis can be defined as the situation in which someone is immersed in the imagination of possible options but never manages to use any and none. plan doesn’t materialize.
Let’s go to concrete
Have you ever considered writing a novel, movie or series? Did you stop to think about the characters and the situations that might arise in them?
You might have flipped through the plot and the elements that might appear in this work of fiction, and it’s also very possible that the vast amount of possibilities that open before you seemed so overwhelming that you didn’t write it down. that more. only a few schematic first pages. This scenario is an example of analysis paralysis, because preliminary analysis, far from becoming a means to reach an end, becomes a difficult obstacle to overcome and, no matter how much you contribute to getting involved in a plan or project, it never develops.
Of course, analysis paralysis doesn’t have to stick to cases where you want to produce something material. It can also show up in your relationship with other people. Here is a fictitious example that will probably ring a bell:
How will he take it if I tell him? No, I’d better tell him otherwise … or not, better like that. Although this would have the problem that … This constant thinking about what to do and the consequences of actions can lead to what we do not know how to decide by one of the options, leading us to a dynamic of inaction.
Opportunity cost and real world issues
Of course, paralysis of analysis would not be a problem if analyzing possible situations and predicting problems that might arise did not require time and effort. However, in the real world, stopping to think too much about things can prevent these from happening.
The opportunity cost is what makes analysis paralysis a problem, and it is for this reason that we should take the phase of analyzing possible decisions based on their practicality. Stopping too long to analyze something robs us not only of further experiences, but also of learning based on experience, trial and error. Analyzing what is there and what can happen is useful because it serves to act on it, not because simply recreating yourself in what is going through your mind during this phase will bring us some kind of material benefit. .
It should also be noted that there are cases when paralysis of the analysis is only in appearance. Someone who has fun imagining possible novels may have no real intention of writing anything: just practice. mental gymnastics. Likewise, imagining things or even drawing plans systematically can be empowering in itself, as long as those thoughts have nothing to do with a real situation that requires a response. Learning to distinguish between the two types of situations may take a bit of practice, but investing the time to focus on these things can have real benefits.