Have you ever wondered how many decisions you make every day? Think about it, from the moment you wake up you HAVE to decide – what to wear, what to eat, what to say, what to text, and even who to vote for.
The power of decision-making is a well-researched topic, but surprisingly, if you are looking for the number of decisions that we make each day you would not find a legitimate source.
The Myth About “35000 Decisions Each Day”
If you google the question you will find some sources telling us how many decisions we make each day. Some say we make 35,000 “remotely conscious” decisions per day, while others claim we make 122 “informed decisions” per day.
“The Decision Lab” (which I personally like and respect) uses “35,000” on their homepage. In fact, it is the first sentence on the website.
The source of the number – Is it real?
Several articles and academic journals that cite this number based it on research by Jim Sollisch. But the truth is that after a few hours of research, the only source I could find is an opinion article that Jim Sollisch wrote in 2016 for the Wall Street Journal, which doesn’t appear to cite any real research.
The Critique and Truth – How Many Decisions Do We Really Make a Day?
Some people doubted this number. Eva M. Krockow from Psychology Today wrote “Does this enormous figure really hold up? You just spent about 50 seconds reading the first paragraphs of this blog. In theory, you should have made 25 decisions since choosing to give this post a try. In reality, that number seems counterintuitive if not outright silly.”
I tend to agree with her.
I don’t think that Sollisch or any other reputable source tried to fake this number, but I DO think that the definition of “Decision Making” was different from what we think when we approach this question. Recently, a new study conducted by noom.com that was cited all over the web claimed that people make 122 “informed decisions” per day.
For me, and the way I define “decision,” this number sounds more realistic than the 35,000 number.
This research also found:
- 76% of people will change what they are going to eat for lunch or dinner
- 80% of people struggle to settle on what to watch on TV
- 41% of people feel guilty about making impulsive decisions.
Another estimate that seems to me more realistic and based on real research claims that we make 200 daily food decisions per day.
So What is the Real Number?
Nobody knows. But the true question is :
Does it matter?
Yes, we love statistics and, of course, we love research.
But the truth is that in order to provide an estimate of a number like that we should define what a “decision” is, which is incredibly difficult.
Whether it’s 122 or 35000, humans make so many decisions every second and every minute of every day.
If you have the option to change or shape 1% of the decisions of your audience, clientele, or even voters, you will have a power that is not comparable. So whatever the number is, it is for sure big enough for you to spend time understanding how people make decisions. You can start by reading the best decision-making books in the list I shared with you.
Forget about the number, think about the power.
You can find the sources that quote the 35000 number in the following articles:
And you can find this great discussion about the topic here.