The price of avoiding uncertainty

In order to manage the avalanche of information that our senses are absorbing at all times, our brains work to find patterns, simplify information, and look for clarity. That allows us to be able to make decisions and act. But sometimes in the rush to make order of the world, our brains jump to unwarranted conclusions — taking in the myriad of information around us and deducing something that just isn't quite right.

A high need for closure isn't necessarily a bad thing. You may just be the type of person who likes to make plans and avoid surprises. However, the need for closure can lead to two major pitfalls in decision making, says Holmes.

The first is what psychologists call the "urgency effect," which is basically the tendency to jump to conclusions. The second is the "permanence effect" -- a stubborn tendency to stick with your beliefs and not change your mind, even in the face of contradictory evidence. Both of these effects result from your brain trying to avoid feelings of uncertainty.

If you have a high need for closure, research suggests you should be careful making decisions, especially in times of fatigue or stress.

Ana Swanson writing in the Washington Post