What Is Overthinking?
By Brad Bell
Careful thinking is important in making some decisions and solving some problems. However, there may be some situations in which there may be too much thinking, or overthinking. Below is a definition of overthinking.
Overthinking occurs when there is greater thinking than is necessary to make a decision or solve a problem, and the level of thinking has a negative outcome.
In order to have a better understanding of the concept of overthinking, it is important to provide some examples of overthinking.
One fictional example of overthinking is from my science fiction novel, A Bright Purple Sky (Bell, 2019). In this novel, the narrator states, "Zantrubeen was known for the idea he called the overthinking hypothesis. He proposed that too much thinking could lead to less rationality and less happiness." (p. 45).
A possible scientific example reflecting overthinking may be some findings in the studies conducted by Wilson and Schooler (1991). Wilson and Schooler found evidence in a few studies that would suggest that the quality of certain personal decisions (e.g., preferences for jams) may be reduced by analyzing reasons for the personal decisions. It is possible that we may not be fully aware of some of the factors that may be important for making certain judgments. Some of our preference decisions may involve processes that cannot be verbalized, and our attention may be diverted from these nonverbal factors by focusing on reasons that can be verbalized.
Bell, B. (2019). A bright purple sky. Portland, Oregon: Blue Fox Commuications.
Wilson, T. D., & Schooler, J. W. (1991). Thinking Too Much: Introspection Can Reduce the Quality of Preferences and Decisions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 181-192.
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