Humans seem to have an innate tendency to solve problems by adding rules, elements or fragments, but actually eliminating them is more effective
Let’s start with some simple mental exercises.
In the image below, we can see four grids. Some squares on the grid are painted green, creating different almost symmetrical patterns. If we ask you to turn these drawings into completely symmetrical drawings, what would you do?
Let’s do another exercise. In the next image, we can see a Lego tower. At the top, we have something against the roof, and at the bottom, we have a person. If we put a heavy object on the roof on the wrong side, you will injure someone. Considering that each additional piece of additional cost will cost 10 cents, how would you solve this problem?
If your answer is to draw more color squares or add three pieces to the roof, then you will have problems because they are not the most effective. However, according to a recent study, humans have a tendency to complicate our lives.
Gabrielle S. Adams, a researcher at the University of Virginia, posed these questions to a group of volunteers, and more.
For example, volunteers suggested adding more parts to better support the roof, although this would increase construction costs. However, a simpler and cheaper solution is to eliminate spare parts and support the roof on the last floor. On the other hand, the grid problem can be solved by erasing the extra green squares.
When Adams and his colleagues asked the participants why they didn’t delete or subtract the fragments, they replied that they did not consider this option at all. However, when it comes to the possibility of reducing the number of volunteers to obtain the best solution or having more time to think, the number of people choosing solutions to eliminate things is even greater.
It turns out that most people tend to come up with addition rather than subtraction solutions, although the latter may be the most effective. This behavior is not only observed in games, but scientists have discovered this trend in people’s daily lives.
During the research process, they also analyzed data from a university that changed the president and asked its students to propose changes. Only 11% of the responses involved deleting existing standards, practices or procedures.
This preference for adding solutions may be influenced by the perception that those solutions that eliminate something may seem less creative and less valuable. On the other hand, people tend to continue the efforts already made, rather than give up the idea and start over. This is called the sunk cost fallacy.
The monkey fell into a fallacy because it sank, just like you
This phenomenon can also be observed at home. For example, when someone is dissatisfied with the decoration of the house, they usually buy some furniture or decoration, although it may be more effective to get rid of the objects. Researchers pointed out that this trend is more pronounced among consumers with fewer resources, which is more detrimental to their economy.
For these reasons, Adams and his team recommend that the head of the organization, when making recommendations or changes, remember that they can also take actions to eliminate standards, elements, or procedures.