I saw this advertisement posted on the way to work today, and it made the claim that people make "about 35000 decisions a day".

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A quick Google search shows that this claim is widely parroted but never sourced.

Is there any evidence for or against this claim?

  • 5
    There are 86400 seconds in a day. If we subtract 8 hours sleep, that leaves 57600 seconds. So you would be making a decision roughly every 1.5 seconds. That does not leave much time to think about them, or to actually execute them!
    – hdhondt
    Apr 28, 2016 at 1:22
  • 7
    @hdhondt - you're thinking about large scale decisions, like buying a car or deciding what you're gonna eat; each time you intentionally take a step, you have to realize that you could've stopped instead. Each step is some sort of decision (probably plural, as it's a complex activity), as is each intentional movement of your arms, fingers, eyes, etc. That quote is super misleading, and very much taken out of context, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were true.
    – Dungarth
    Apr 28, 2016 at 2:10
  • 2
    @hdhondt: Well, consider that as I'm typing this, each word choice is a decision. And if I notice that I mistyped 'work' for word, going back to correct it involves a series of decisions - do I backspace, use the cursor keys to move there, the mouse, or should I even bother to fix it?) So there's more than one decision per second - some of them in parallel, like spelling, word choice, sentence structure...
    – jamesqf
    Apr 28, 2016 at 6:03
  • 8
    I don't think this question is answerable without a coherent definition of decision.
    – gerrit
    Apr 28, 2016 at 10:18
  • 1
    Researchers at Cornell found that people make an average of 226.7 decisions a day about food alone. Wansink, Brian and Jeffrey Sobal (2007), “Mindless Eating: The 200 Daily Food Decisions We Overlook,” Environment and Behavior 39:1, 106-123. And this site does come out and say the 35,000 number is still unsourced: go.roberts.edu/leadingedge/…
    – JasonR
    Apr 28, 2016 at 12:18


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