On Making the Right Choice: The Deliberation-Without-Attention Effect

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  17 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5763, pp. 1005-1007
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121629

eLetters is an online forum for ongoing peer review. Submission of eLetters are open to all. eLetters are not edited, proofread, or indexed.  Please read our Terms of Service before submitting your own eLetter.

Compose eLetter

Plain text

  • Plain text
    No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Author Information
First or given name, e.g. 'Peter'.
Your last, or family, name, e.g. 'MacMoody'.
Your email address, e.g.
Your role and/or occupation, e.g. 'Orthopedic Surgeon'.
Your organization or institution (if applicable), e.g. 'Royal Free Hospital'.
Statement of Competing Interests

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Vertical Tabs

  • Albright vs. Trump: Scientific evidence for the beneficial effects of careful deliberation
    • Hilde Huizenga, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    • Other Contributors:
      • Don van Ravenzwaaij, University of Groningen
      • Richard Ridderinkhof, University of Amsterdam
      • Ruud Wetzels, PricewaterhouseCoopers

    Dear editor,

    Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, recently indicated that previous US administrations encouraged careful deliberations on the pros and cons of complex decisions. She suggested that this endorses good decision-making, and recommended that the current Trump administration would act likewise [1]. Recent court orders revoking Trumps immigration decree, however, suggest that pros and cons were not exhaustively deliberated.

    What does science say about this? Is there evidence that careful deliberations promote good decisions? An influential Science paper [2], cited over 1000 times and extensively covered by US media, concluded that this is not the case. Instead, it advocated so-called unconscious thinking—that is, thinking about something different than the problem at hand—also in complex political decision-making. However, it has been shown repeatedly that superiority of unconscious thinking fails to replicate [3], and that decisions based on deliberation actually outperform those based on unconscious thinking, provided that a good overview of pros and cons is available [4].

    Therefore, current initiatives from the Senate, the judicial system and from the American people, to promote extensive overviews of pros and cons, and to promote careful deliberation on these, can only be encouraged, as Madeleine Albright did.


    Show More
    Competing Interests: None declared.

Stay Connected to Science