Who would you trust with the lives of hundreds of people: federal intelligence agents or a bunch of college students?
At Cornell University, psychologist Valerie Reyna wanted to test whether intelligence agents were susceptible to a type of decision-making bias people accrue as they get older. It's called fuzzy thinking. As our life experience grows more robust, we tend to make decisions off of gists, rather than analytical lines of thought.
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It's the paradox of real-world experience: "FTT [Fuzzy-trace theory] makes the counterintuitive prediction that reliance on gist-based thinking increases with development. That is, with increasing experience and expertise, people are less likely to engage in literal, verbatim-based analysis and more likely to use simple semantic gist in memory, judgment, and decision-making."
In simple terms, the older we get, the more likely we are to go with our gut.
But going with the gut isn't always the best way to make decisions, and we would hope that those who make the most consequential decisions — members of our intelligence community being some of them — would not be biased by their life experience and treat every decision with a hard-lined analytical thought. Right?