Humans have created a binary system, either we are good or bad, but the truth may lie somewhere in between; people tend to think in black and white, and science and psychology prove almost anything we can imagine exists on a spectrum.
According to Psychology Today, people often make bad decisions based on emotion instead of reason, get caught up in the moment, often forsaking morals, and letting those emotions take the driver’s seat.
While “good” people make “bad” decisions every day, there is a wide variety of reasons for this.
Emotion Overcomes Logic
The reason why humans can do malevolent and benevolent acts perplexes even some of the greatest minds in psychology, according to Long Island Psychology.
People may not feel how they portray themselves, often weighing the decision of “what’s best for me” and “what I feel I want.” Examples of this: former couples breakup, then they feel they miss their partner and relationship. They tend to give in and get back together. Missing someone out of emotion is common after any relationship because a big part of your life is no longer there.
According to Psychology Today, the answer to why good people make bad choices is complex. An example is someone in an abusive relationship, with the victim often staying with their abuser, making this a “bad” decision from a logical perspective. On the other end of the spectrum, you have an average person in normal relationships, sticking it out, hoping things will change, and it never does; this is a “bad” decision, but humans frequently make this choice with emotion prevailing over any/all logic.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), an organization with a mission of ending domestic violence, the answer to why victims stay with their abusive is complex and multifaceted. Sometimes this decision is based on fear. One study shows that some men who are the abuser in a relationship threaten if they leave, and the ones who do potentially face death. This fear is not unreasonable, though it is emotion over logic in this situation.
Bad Decisions≠Bad People
Other decisions such as smoking, drinking, drugs, and other self-sabotaging behavior can be “bad” decisions. Common sense is “drugs are bad, make better choices.” Although when someone is facing mental health issues or drug abuse, it’s not a “choice” for them. Some people who do drugs or have other substance abuse issues are “bad,” but most are “good” people with a problem much more than they can handle alone, without the intervention of therapy, rehab, or a support system. Many of these recovered addicts go on to do “good things.”
Doubling Down On Bad Decisions
The sunken cost fallacy can range from buying a run-down house to a long-term relationship you are emotionally and financially invested. People often use the “emotional” logic of thinking because we put so much effort in, that we should keep investing, hoping for a return on investment, but this never comes.
According to The Decision Lab, an organization that empowers people with informed decision-making based on evidence states that we are likely to continue something, even if it doesn’t work if we put a lot into it.
“We are likely to continue an endeavor if we have already invested in it, whether it be a monetary investment or the effort that we put into the decision. That often means we go against evidence that shows it is no longer the best decision, such as sickness or weather affecting the event.”
The truth is emotion usually wins over logic, and good people make bad decisions from those emotions, whether it’s anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, or substance abuse fueling it.