|Two roads diverged in a yellow wood (Frost/pintattos.com)|
Individuals who were in a quandary over whether to get married (or divorced), quit their jobs, adopt a child, etc., volunteered to be part of Professor Levitt's study. They flipped a coin and agreed to follow the coin's "orders" (whether they did so or not was up to them).
The findings, excerpted from the working paper: [bold added]
First, two months into the study participants show a bias towards the status quo.There are numerous methodological criticisms---for example, the voluntary participation of the subjects---of the study that prevent it from being "scientific." However, it confirms our bias, so we are allowed to seize upon it!
Second, those who report making a change in follow-up surveys are substantially happier than those who do not make a change.
Third, the outcome of the coin toss appears to influence the actions taken. Those who flipped heads were approximately 25 percent more likely to report making a change than those who got tails.
Fourth, when it comes to “important” decisions (e.g. job quitting, separating from your husband or wife), making a change appears to be not only correlated with increased self-reported happiness, but also causally related, especially six months after the coin toss.
If you had stayed put, and your life, though okay, didn't change much, you may always wonder....