Ten Reasons We Make Knee Jerk Decisions Today

Ron McIntyre
3 min readMay 10, 2024

I am known for making quick decisions, but behind every decision is a lot of research, experience, thought, and knowledge that very few see. Knee-jerk decisions, on the other hand, are often made quickly, based on immediate reactions, even emotions, rather than careful thought. If not managed well, these decisions can lead to unforeseen consequences and regrets.

This pattern is not confined to individuals but permeates daily through business, society, and families. While they may believe they possess all the necessary information, when it is sourced from the Internet, and confirmational bias takes hold, the outcome is almost always a flawed decision.

Let’s delve into the ten compelling reasons why knee-jerk decisions have become a prevalent phenomenon in our modern world:

  1. Information Overload: The vast amount of information available online and through media can overwhelm people and cause them to react impulsively rather than process and evaluate information thoroughly. The rise in conspiracy theories and reconstituted old wives’ tales on social media, coupled with our unwillingness to verify the data, will distort any decision.
  2. Social Media Influence: Social media platforms provide instant feedback and gratification, encouraging snap judgments and decisions based on likes, comments, and shares rather than careful consideration. My thoughts are that I usually double and triple-check everything I read in books, magazines, on TV, and on the Internet. Even if I know the expert personally, there are beginning to be too many deepfakes and misinterpretations offered up that it is required to verify them.
  3. Fast-Paced Environment: The modern world moves quickly, and the pressure to keep up can lead people to make hasty decisions without fully considering the consequences. We’re all in this fast-paced world together, and it’s understandable how these pressures can influence our decision-making.
  4. Stress and Anxiety: High levels of stress and anxiety can impair judgment and lead to quick, emotional decisions instead of well-thought-out ones. At times, pressure from outside pushes the average decision-maker into a corner, and rather than fight for the right, they will give in and surrender.
  5. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): The fear of missing out on opportunities can prompt people to make quick decisions without adequate deliberation, especially in fast-moving markets like technology or finance. This is the basis of all marketing today, and we always fall for it. Shame on us.
  6. Group Think: In group settings, the desire to conform or align with the majority can lead to rapid agreement without critical analysis, resulting in knee-jerk decisions. Too often, this brings about uniformity, not unity. It will usually cloak itself as a consensus but may or may not have the support of everyone due to the pressure of group thinking.
  7. Limited Attention Spans: Decreasing attention spans may contribute to a reluctance to engage in detailed analysis, leading to quicker, less informed decisions. This may be a generalization; however, it must depend on the topic, interest levels, and willingness to focus on it. This is over-simplification, but it does play a part in some decisions.
  8. Bias for Action: There is often a cultural bias towards acting, which can lead to making decisions to move forward, regardless of whether those decisions are well-considered.
  9. Emotional Reactions: Decisions can be driven by immediate emotional responses rather than reasoned thought, particularly in situations involving personal relationships or high-pressure environments.
  10. Lack of Time: With busier schedules and competing demands on time, many feel they do not have the luxury to ponder decisions at length, leading to quicker choices. This is an excuse, not a valid reason for ineffective decisions.

Understanding these factors is key to managing the impulse to make knee-jerk decisions. By being aware of these influences, we can empower ourselves to make more thoughtful, deliberate decisions.



Ron McIntyre

Ron McIntyre is a Leadership Anthropologist, Author, and Consultant, who, in semi-retirement, is looking to help people who really want to make a difference.