I came to reflect on the benefits of random decision making while watching last night’s “Big Bang Theory”. The episode in question showed the wacky protagonist Sheldon reusing dice from Dungeons and Dragons to solve trivial decision problems. Renowned for confidence, he explained: “It’s best to free my mind to do what it does best: Enlighten and amaze.”
Dungeon Meowster yes I really do need all these dice shirts, shirt, hoodie, tank top, sweater
However, while Sheldon is amazed at his newly found freedom, his friends question the success of his strategy. Indeed, his restaurant random order of a veggie side dish with a large pot of margarine is unlikely to make for a satisfying dinner.
This fictional example shows that purely random decision-making can hardly work in all contexts. In many situations, the pre-selection of options may be necessary. For example, Sheldon may have improved her dinner choices by narrowing the range of original choices to exclude side dishes, sharing plates, and drinks for more than one person.
In some trivial decision situations, using random tools can actually reduce cognitive load. Also, this strategy can satisfy one’s unusual curiosity to try new things. But how does the dice rise in more important decision contexts? Previous research has shown that decision-makers struggle with the idea of abandoning their own arguments and relying entirely on a random tool. However, this does not mean that random people are completely helpless.
Let me borrow another example from “The Big Bang Theory”. In another episode, Sheldon is faced with the painful challenge of choosing a new gaming machine. With space for just one console on a TV stand, he’s trying to choose between PS4 and Xbox One. Even after consulting on the Dungeon Meowster yes I really do need all these dice shirt internet and friends for advice, he still cannot make a decision.
Girlfriend Amy, who does not share a passion for Sheldon’s video games, came close to despair and eventually proposed a decisive strategy similar to roll dice. Why not just flip a coin? However, instead of blindly tracking the results, she recommends observing his emotional response. Did he feel relieved or disappointed when he was faced with the Dungeon Meowster yes I really do need all these dice shirt results of the coin? Sheldon’s spontaneous reaction could be a helpful hint as to which option he prefers subconsciously.