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What is the best way to give advice?

Well, apparently the best way to give advice is to give information!

That’s great. Librarians can do that.

From Psychology Today blog:

What is the best way to give advice?

“Advice for is a recommendation to pick a particular option.
Advice against is a recommendation to avoid a particular option.
Information supplies a piece of information that the decision maker might not know about.
Decision support suggests how to go about making the choice, but does not make a specific recommendation.”

The best quote:

“There are a few reasons why information is more valuable to people than other kinds of advice. For one thing, when someone makes a recommendation for or against a particular option, a decision maker may feel like they have lost a bit of their independence in making a choice. Recommendations about how to go about making the choice may also make a decision maker feel a loss of independence. When the advice comes in the form of information, though, the decision maker still feels like they have some autonomy.”

“Second, information helps people to make future decisions in the same domain. New pieces of information often make people aware of dimensions of a decision that they had never considered before. A recommendation for or against a particular option is useful for the specific decision that you are making at a given time, but that advice may not be as helpful in the future.”

“Finally, getting information makes people feel more confident in the decision they ultimately make. The information provides reasons for or against a particular option. There is a lot of evidence that people feel better about decisions when they are able to give a reason for making the choice. Information provides a good justification for a choice.”

“So, if you want my advice, give people information when making a recommendation.”

Awesome! The psychology behind information, advice and recommendations gives me an understanding of all those library conversations every day.


Posted on: April 29, 2010, 9:48 am Category: Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Thanks for posting this, Stephen. Understanding the psychology of information and how people think is something that I’m fascinated by and want to understand more deeply.