Case No. 1: Guessing the Right Answer
When in doubt, three out of every four of us think back to our days of multiple-choice tests and go with the first
option we think is right. Alas, your SAT-prep coach misled you, found a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
. Among test-takers, those who rejected their initial guess in favor of a later one were more often right. The mistake of trusting our first instinct—which may also apply to, say, picking the fastest line at the toll plaza or even a partner—persists because we subconsciously try to avoid regret. We're likelier to remember (and deeply regret) those few times when our first guess was right but we changed our minds and got it wrong than the (more common) times we stuck with our gut but should have switched.
When in doubt about your first instinct, pick the answer that comes to you after you give it some more thought. You're likelier to be right.