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Decisions – Your Need for Cognitive Closure

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Decision Making [1]

Cognition is our ability to think.  It is the actual process of thinking.  It includes gathering data, mentally weighing and measuring options, thinking through possible outcomes and coming to conclusions.  Cognitive closure is the end of that process.

My wife is a teacher and I remember discussion we had when she was in school about Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development.  It is how the mind develops in stages of thinking from infancy to adulthood.  He postulated that we acquire knowledge and organize that knowledge into usefulness at certain ages (in general).  Some of his ideas have fallen into disfavor, but in general they tend to be correct.  Most of your kids are taught specific subjects in specific grades based on his findings.

Cognitive Closure is the end of thinking.  The desire for drawing conclusions and to have closure is higher in some people than others.  Some people just need to have everything in its place.  They need to know that there is no ambiguity and no unsolved mysteries or outstanding questions.  There is even a test that you can take to define your need for closure.

This test surfaces the person’s need on a scale that addresses such things as:

Your level of desire for closure effects your decision making in that those who have a high need for closure seem to be more decisive when they reach a decisions.  That may sound like a good thing, but they tend to use less information in their thinking.  They tend to use obvious information and not do their homework.

The desire to reach a quick decision may work out well for most issues that come up and no one like people who over-think things.  Taking two hours to decide what to eat for lunch would drive people crazy.

But not thinking it through on the larger decisions can cause you troubles.  If you tend to move quickly on every decision at every level in the sale manner, then you may need to slow down, gather more information and think a bit longer on the big ones.  Reaching a decision is imperative, but reaching it too quickly can sour your situation.

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