Using visual illusions as a metaphor, behavioral economist Dan Ariely shows that we’re not as rational as we’d like to think we are when we make decisions.
One poignant example of irrational behavior Ariely uses is in the disparity between organ donators between different countries in Europe (5:08 in video). While some may think that it has to do with cultural differences, it is actually based on the how DMV forms with donor opt-in checkboxes are designed. The countries that had opt-in checkboxes scored very low, because people would skip it. Whereas the ones with opt-out checkboxes (“check if you do not want to donate”), scored very highly for the same reason.
Ariely posits that the reason this happens is not because of a rational cost-benefit analysis. Instead, he says that we believe the options are so complex that we simply go for the default option that is already chosen for us. Furthermore, he continues with more examples of how inferior options among choices can irrationally affect our decisions.
Like our physical limitations, we should seek to understand our cognitive limitations to better realize our decision making potential.