Professor outlines ‘hot decisions’ at lecture series event

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Professor Nils Olsen spoke to about 70 students about the psychology behind decision-making in a lecture Tuesday evening in the Marvin Center Amphitheatre.

“Hot decisions” – the title of the lecture – refers to irrational decision making that people naturally gravitate toward without considering all options he said.

“We have our head telling us that we should be maximizing our utility and our heart telling us to go with our gut level,” Olsen said.

Olsen talked about when he was younger, he and his brother both taught tennis. One summer, he got an offer he got from a Russian family to go to Italy with them so he could teach their sons tennis. After weighing what his head said versus what his heart said, he turned down the offer.

Olsen said, “Now that I look back on it, maybe I should have taken it”.

“The idea of “hot” and “cold” really resonated with me,” Jennifer Choi, a senior in the Elliott School said.

Olsen explained six decisional hot zones that may help individuals control their reactions, even if they can’t necessarily control the circumstances that they are put in.

Olsen, who has previously worked for the American Bar Foundation, the audit, tax, and advisory services of KPMG, and the National Institutes of Mental Health, said health decisions are in our own hands.

“It was a really insightful lecture,” said Spencer Olsen, a freshman in the Columbian College.

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