How much time do you spend doing research before you make a decision? The answer for many of us, it turns out, is “hardly any,” even with major investments. Most people make two trips or fewer to a dealership before buying a car. And according to survey results in a 2003 paper by economist Katherine Harris, when picking a doctor, many individuals use recommendations from friends and family rather than consulting other health care professionals or “formal sources” such as employers, articles or Web sites.

We are not necessarily conserving our resources to spend them on bigger decisions either. One in five Americans spends more time planning their upcoming vacation than they do their financial future.

To be sure, some people go over every detail exhaustively before making a choice, and it’s certainly possible to overthink things. But there are also people who are quick to jump to conclusions. This way of thinking is considered a cognitive bias, a term psychologists use to describe a tendency toward a specific mental mistake. In this case, the error is making a call based on the sparsest of evidence.

In our own research, we have found that hasty judgments are often just one part of larger error-prone patterns in behavior and thinking. We’ve also found that people who tend to make such “jumps” in their reasoning may experience a wide range of costs.

Read the full article at Scientific American.