How much is too much information?


Twenty years ago psychologist Paul Andreassen decided to see if more information helped people make better decisions. He asked one group to make investments based on very little data; the other had a steady stream of financial analysis and market trend reports at their disposal. The result: the less informed decision-makers wound up earning more than twice as much.

Surprised? A similar study, this time involving college counselors, discovered that those counselors who knew the least about a group of high school students actually predicted with better accuracy which ones would score better on tests.

It appears that having access to too much information during the decision-making process is counter-productive. It’s distracting and leads to over confidence and poor decisions. You can read more about this in Johnah Leher’s book, How We Decide, but it got me to thinking about parenting information.

Parents are bombarded with information, advice and resources everywhere they turn. (Type “parenting advice” into Google and you’ll get back at least 20.5 million results!)  How many blogs, podcasts, web sites and eUniversities can a parent access? At what point does it simply become information overload? And how should credible sources like Parents as Teachers reach them?

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One thought on “How much is too much information?

  1. Cathy Puett Miller AKA The Literacy Ambassador

    I’d say AMEN to that, in the world of children’s literacy development. The problem is that, not only do we have a lot of information (sometimes conflicting) but there’s also a lot of misinformation. Go to the source to find accurate facts – in the case of literacy that’s the International Reading Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Harvard Family Resource Center — not the latest manufacturer of newest educational toys (after all, the latter has a vested financial investment in getting you to “buy in”).

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