We all like to believe that our behavior, work ethic and quality of care are products of who we are. But who we are is the product of the decisions we make, and we’re fooling ourselves to think that our decision-making never falters. Habits may seem boring, but by relegating our mental busywork to mindless routine we can be fresh and ready for the true challenges of the job. And if nothing else, simply being aware of the realities of decision fatigue can help us avoid it.
Augenblick N, Nicholson S. Ballot position, choice fatigue, and voter behavior. http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/ned/Choice_Fatigue.pdf.
Baumeister RF, Bratslavsky E, Muraven M, Tice DM. Ego depletion: is the active self a limited resource? J Pers Soc Psychol, 74(5):1252–1265, 1998.
Danziger S, Levav J, Avnaim-Pesso L. Extraneous factors in judicial decisions. PNAS, 108(17): 6889–6892, 2011. Published ahead of print April 11, 2011, doi:10.1073/pnas.1018033108.
Gailliot MT, Baumeister RF. The physiology of willpower: linking blood glucose to self-control. Pers Soc Psychol Rev, 11(4):303–327, 2007.
Job V, Dweck CS, Walton GM. Ego depletion—is it all in your head?: implicit theories about willpower affect self-regulation. Psychol Sci, 21(11):1686–1693, Nov 2011.
Laran J, Janiszewski C. Work or fun? How task construal and completion influence regulatory behavior. J Consumer Research, 37:967–983, April 2011.
Schmeichel BJ, Vohs KD, Baumeister RF. Intellectual performance and ego depletion: role of the self in logical reasoning and other information processing. J Pers Soc Psychol, 85(1):33–46, 2003.
Tierney J. Why you need to sleep on it. The Sixth Floor. http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/why-you-need-to-sleep-on-it/, Aug 2011.
Tierney J. Do you suffer from decision fatigue? The New York Times. www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html, Aug 2011.
Tyler JM, Burns K. After depletion: the replenishment of the self’s regulatory resources. Self and Identity, 7(3):305–321, 2008.
Vohs KD, Baumeister RF, Schmeichel BJ, Twenge JM, Nelson NM, Tice DM. Making choices impairs subsequent self-control: a limited-resource account of decision making, self-regulation, and active initiative. J Pers Soc Psychol, 94(5):883–98, May 2008.
Brandon Oto, BA, NREMT-B, is a field EMT and clinical educator for a private Boston-area service, as well as editor of emsbasics.com. His interests include BLS fundamentals, STEMI and cardiac arrest systems of care, and clinical decision-making.