Your indecisiveness could be a sign of greater intelligence


We all know someone who, no matter how long they think things through, still can’t figure out what they want. These people will spend hours trying to figure out what they want. Perhaps you’reThat person. 

If you are, a June 2022 study from the University of Cologne and the Hochschule Döpfer University shows you might have less to worry about than you think (because let’s be honest, you’re already doing enough worrying). Research shows that indecisiveness, while sometimes annoying or debilitating at times, could actually be a sign you are more intelligent. 

Read on—or don’t. After all, it’s your decision.

Is Your Indecisiveness a Problem?

One of the most common ways to measure someone’s indecisiveness is the Frost Indecisiveness Scale. The scale has 15 declarative statements like “I try to put off making decisions” “I always know exactly what I want.”

These statements are then rated by the individual on a five-point scale. One means they strongly disagree, five means they strongly agree. The more indecisive or indecisive you are, the higher your score.

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This measurement system revealed that indecisiveness can often be a result of perfectionionism. These individuals avoid the shame and guilt that can be associated with making a wrong or negative decision, so they delay making a decision.

It’s also a common symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Randy O., the inventor of the Frost Indecisiveness Score, found this information. Frost.

Now, how do you get there? AmbivalentAre You One of These?

Whereas Frost’s research focused on indecisiveness in general, the more recent study found a better, more accurate metric to use: trait ambivalence. This is defined as one’s ability to remain ambivalent or have mixed feelings. 

More specifically, the study observed trait ambivalence in the context of confirmation, which is the tendency to prefer information that’s in accord with our preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, regardless of the information presented. Confirmation biases, correspondence biases, and self-serving biased can influence our decision-making. 

According to the study, biased thinking can also lead to lower accuracy overall. Have you ever regretted making a quick decision? Many people are guilty of jumping into conclusions without considering all options. This is the opposite of indecisiveness. It can also be dangerous in certain situations.

The Confirmation Bias:

Confirmation bias prevents us from thinking rationally, blinding us to evidence that doesn’t align with our beliefs. It can create dogmatic or overly-simplistic thinking, but it isn’t the only cognitive maladaptation we frequently use. Correspondence bias can also be a cause of us pulling our wool over our eyes. 

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In contrast to confirmation bias, correspondence bias is not based on the assumption that two unrelated events can be connected without taking into account the context. This can be something like assuming someone’s a bad driver because they got into a car accident without considering whether the road conditions were bad. 

Self-serving bias, on the other hand, allows us to only see what is best for us. All of these cognitive dissonance types cause us to believe and act on misinformation. This study shows that trait ambivalence is protective against this type of thinking.

The Perks of Seeing Both Pros and Cons

A meta-analysis of multiple studies was used to determine the relationship between trait confirm and trait ambivalence. The researchers read brief scenarios in each study to assess participants’ biases and assumptions, if applicable. 

Researchers discovered that the trait of ambivalence was a common trait. “leads to increased associative breadth, higher cognitive flexibility, more accurate judgments, and more awareness and effectiveness in decision-making.” 

As long as your indecisiveness isn’t causing fearful paralysis, there’s merit to be found in mulling things over for a bit.

You can continue to think about it for a while. But maybe set a rumination timer, so you don’t go too far down the rabbit hole.

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