Decision fatigue is a term coined by the social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister. Decision fatigue is different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain. Your brain eventually looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways: act impulsively or avoid any decision.
Decision fatigue routinely warps the judgment of everyone, executive and non- executive, rich and poor. Yet few people are even aware of it, and researchers are only beginning to understand why it happens and how to counteract it. One of the experiments showed that the probability of being paroled fluctuated wildly throughout the day. Prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time. The research also observed decision fatigue in doctors, pilots, shopping and planning for a wedding.More