How to judge between options

Ever since learning that the “last is best” effect occurs regardless of how we’re judging something (i.e., whether we keep score as we go along, or decide at the end), it’s made me much more aware of how the order in which we view things affects our opinions of them.

How to be smart about judging between options:

  • When choosing between objects, randomize them as much as possible, so you don’t keep looking at things in the same order.
  • Try to form new impressions about things you’ve seen early on.
  • If you’re having a hard time deciding between two options, that probably means you’ll be happy with either of them. Here’s an awesome answer on Quora about decision-making and minimizing regret. In a nutshell, all we can do is control our decisions—not the outcome. “The key takeaway is that the quality of your decision is as good as the weakest link.”
  • Have your spouse/mother decide for you. That way, if it doesn’t work out, you can blame them later.

Tips on when you’re the one being judged:

  • Schedule any tests later in the day.
  • Don’t be scared about missing out: saying that you’re ‘not available’ immediately for something like a job interview can also add to the impression that you’re highly desirable. Being overeager can be a turn-off, since it sends signals that others aren’t clamoring to get to you.
  • Don’t go first. Unless you’re, like, Brad Pitt or something.
  • Keep this in mind: because the order of presentation can have a huge influence on a competition, there is no contest that is decided purely on merit.
  • Don’t use clichés. Don’t practice using lines from job interview/pick-up experts. Practice being comfortably yourself.
  • People regret buying things they don’t need, and not taking part in experiences. Translation: go to the interview. Go on the date.