Here’s when it makes sense to be selfish

Washington: Turns out, looking at the big picture can lead to better decisions.

New research suggests how distancing yourself from a decision may help you make the choice that produces the most benefit for you and others affected.

Lead author of the study, Paul Stillman said, “One key to maximizing benefits for everyone is realizing that occasionally the best decision will benefit you the most.”

He added, “The most efficient decision is the one that is going to maximize the total pie – and that is true whether more goes to you or more goes to someone else. Sometimes it makes the most sense to seem a bit selfish if that is going to maximize overall benefits.”

For example, it might be more efficient for a software engineer to spend time developing new productivity software rather than fixing a friend’s computer.

In the study, Stillman and his colleagues found that people tended to make the most efficient decision – the one that resulted in the most overall value for the group – when they looked at the big picture.

Overall, Stillman said, the results show a way to minimize waste and inefficiencies when making decisions and to maximize net gain for everyone.

“When you create some psychological distance from your decision, you tend to see things more in line with long-term goals, and you can see beyond the immediate considerations of the here and now,” he said.

The full findings are present in the journal- Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.