An Israeli researcher Michael Bar – Eli studied hundreds of penalty shoot-outs in soccer. In a penalty shootout, the ball takes less than 0.3 seconds to travel from the shooter to the goal. This is certainly not enough time for the goalkeepers to assess the ball’s trajectory. As a result, they need to decide beforehand what to do.
Study of various penalty shootouts shows that players who take penalty kicks shoot one third of the time at the middle of the goal, one third of the time at the left and one third of the time at the right. But the goalkeepers always either dive to the left or the right. Why?
Because it looks more impressive and less embarrassing to dive to the wrong side than to freeze on the spot and watch the ball sail past. This is called action bias – look active, even if it achieves nothing.
“Don’t sit, wait and watch – do something” is our life mantra.
We are descendants of hunters – who needed lightning fast reactions for survival. But our world is different. Still, we end up taking action without reflection.
Why is it torturous to wait & watch? Why is it bothersome to be seen idle? Why is it socially important to appear busy or engaged?
Think about situations where your immediate intervention might have worsened it when your sure intention was to be of some help.
When your kids fight and you manifest yourself as a saviour, you might add fuel to the fire by your presence.
Support – too much, too soon, might turn into a handicap. I have seen many retired people who keep themselves extremely occupied because they don’t want to feel ‘out of work, out of use’.
Replying immediately to tweets and online posts also shows our penchant towards taking immediate action, albeit through words.
In his book, The Art of Thinking Clearly, Rolf Dobelli says that society at large still prefers rash action to a sensible wait & watch strategy.
This surely doesn’t mean that a quick action is always unwarranted. A quick action for the sake of appearing active and involved is. Not taking a quick action is not same as inaction. In critical situations like a military/medical emergency, we need to act fast but in verbal arguments/brawls, a reflected and delayed action reaps better results.
Are you a mother who gets involved in every part of your child’s life because you are ‘at home’ to raise him/her?(Check your parenting style here Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller))
Are you a leader who is always behind schedule due to numerous meetings/appointments/review meetings?