Conventional wisdom says before you make a decision you should make a list of pros and cons, but Chip and Dan Heath say that's wrong. The brothers are co-authors of "Decisive: How To Make Better Choices in Life and Work."
"The pros and cons list is a good way of setting up a situation where you've got potentially one option that you're doing thumbs up and thumbs down on," says Chip. "Good decision-making starts with having multiple options available to you. Good decision-making involves collecting information that may contradict your initial opinions that you can sit at home with your pros and cons list and come up with a beautiful justification for whatever you wanted to do in the first place. What we're trying to do is widen out the process of making a good decision."
Dan Heath says one of the classic villains of decision making is what psychologists call "narrow framing" -- a temptation to get stuck in making decisions in a "whether or not" frame. Whether or not you should buy an iPad. Whether or not you should quit your job.
"What the research tells us is if we can just generation another option -- just one or two -- it greatly increases the chance we're going to make a good decision," says Dan.
Dan says one of the most important principals of decision-making is to trust the actual experiences of other people over our own instincts.
"We're always wise to trust the experience of other people over our own intuitions. For instance, if you're thinking of where you're going to go out to dinner tonight, you might be wise enough to go onto Yelp and look at the reviews and trust the place that has 100 good reviews over your own judgment about which menu looks good," says Dan. "When it comes to people's portfolios, they totally throw that logic out of the window."
The Heaths say part of being a good decision maker is knowing when not to trust yourself -- and figuring out how to not let your emotions get the best of you.
"Often the best thing we can do -- especially when it comes to something like retirement -- is get out of [your] emotional melee and create some distance," says Dan.
The electric car company Fisker Automotive has laid off three quarters of its employees and reports suggest a bankruptcy filing is near. The Fisker Karma sports car can toggle between electric and gasoline-assisted power, but the company hasn't made one since last summer. Fisker's financial troubles are especially controversial because the company received federal subsidies, money that -- in retrospect -- doesn't seem well spent to some.
Slate tech writer Will Oremus joins Marketplace Tech host David Brancaccio to discuss Fisker and why its different from Tesla Motors.
The last time the NRA sponsored a NASCAR race was in September, before the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that brought the NRA to the forefront of the debate on gun control.
“I’m certain that somewhere down the line someone has to say let’s look at a particular sponsor and see whether it is good for the sport” says Jon Ackley, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who teaches a class called "The Business of NASCAR."
He says that these types of sponsorships are made between the owner of the race track, in this case Texas Motor Speedway, and the sponsor, but ultimately NASCAR has to approve the deal.
“But just because there may be people who don’t approve of something it doesn’t mean that it is detrimental to the overall sport,” says Ackley.
Ackley doesn’t think the sponsorship will cost NASCAR any fans. Sponsors typically pay upwards of $1 million to put their name on a race. NASCAR didn’t block the NRA deal, but said it would take a closer look at the sponsorship approval process in the future.
More than four million Americans will be watching their mailboxes over the next few weeks, and not just for their tax refunds. Starting today, checks are on the way to victims of wrongful foreclosures as part of a $3.6 billion settlement between banks and federal regulators. But for most of those borrowers, it won’t exactly be Christmas in April. More than 80 percent of people who are eligible for settlement money will get checks ranging from $300 to $1,000.
“Makes me laugh out loud," says Josh Escobedo, of Spanish Fork, Utah. "It’s kind of a punch in the face.”
Escobedo fell behind on his mortgage payments after he lost his job as a realtor. He was denied a loan modification at first and says it cost him a lot to get one through an attorney.
“Somewhere in the $8,000 range, at least, not to mention all the time and energy and the stress on my family,” he explains. Escobedo says his check might cover a nice steak dinner for him and his wife.
The settlement is the result of a long push by federal regulators to compensate borrowers for mistakes or mistreatment by banks at the height of the housing crisis.
53 people lost their homes, but never actually defaulted on their mortgages, and banks took houses away from more than a thousand military service-members who were protected from foreclosure by law. Borrowers in those two groups will get up to $125,000 each, but most people will get a small fraction of that.
“Servicers are not paying anywhere close to the amount of harm they caused,” says Alys Cohen, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. “On the other hand, there’s still a chance for servicers to do the right thing and give people loan modifications when they qualify.”
In West Palm Beach, Florida, Claudia Fehribach fought to get a modification after her husband lost his job. They have a 10-year-old son, and in the end, they were able to keep their home, but she says the process took three years.
“I don’t know how many nights I lost sleep with my husband worrying what was going to happen,” says Fehribach. “I’m glad I’m getting something, don’t get me wrong, but it’s ridiculous. It really is.”
Federal regulators say borrowers should call Rust Consulting to find out if they’re eligible for the settlement. The company is distributing the money, and sent a postcard to every person who’ll get a check. Fehribach says the notice looks like junk mail, and she almost threw hers away.