I am very happy to announce the publication of my latest paper, “An investigation of big life decisions” in the journal Judgment and Decision Making. Special thanks go to Ashleigh Powell, Katherine Newton, Nathan Moore, and Rebecca Dooley for helping me to code up the data. Special thanks also to Alex Kroeger for helping me to code the data.
This paper started in 2018 when I became obsessed with asking people what their ten biggest life decisions were. It’s an excellent conversation starter! I was on a tour bus going around Israel when I realised the people around me had very different answers to my question. It was then that I decided to investigate this question a little more systematically.
I even went so far as to create the website TenBiggestDecisions.com where anyone can take the survey and see the data for themselves. So far, tens of thousands of people have visited the website. Perhaps you’d like to have a go, too?
There were so many insights that I discovered that the first version of the manuscript I submitted to JDM (including the appendix) was nearly 150 pages long and ran some 35,000 words. I thank one of my academic heroes, Professor Jon Baron, for not immediately rejecting the manuscript. He was even dedicated enough to have a play with my data himself – what an incredible editor! Let me take this opportunity to thank him for creating such an amazing journal and pouring so much of his own time into it.
In the end, I came up with this taxonomy for big life decisions, which I think does a comprehensive job covering nearly all the decisions my participants mentioned:
You can check out the article here. And here is the abstract:
What are life’s biggest decisions? In Study 1, I devised a taxonomy comprising 9 decision categories, 58 decision types, and 10 core elements of big decisions. In Study 2, I revealed people’s perceptions of and expectations for the average person’s big life decisions. In the flagship Study 3, 658 participants described their 10 biggest past and future decisions and rated each decision on a variety of decision elements. This research reveals the characteristics of a big life decision, which are the most common, most important, and most positively evaluated big life decisions, when such decisions happen, and which factors predict ‘good’ decisions. This research contributes to knowledge that could help people improve their lives through better decision-making and living with fewer regrets.