Among the most frequent therapeutic conversations is a discussion of product vs. process mentality. The former sets up life into a series of win-lose, high risk propositions. The capacity for hindsight bias and regret is strong, as the merit of a decision is based solely on outcome. Here’s how it works: suppose that Bob decides to change jobs. Is it a good choice? A bad choice? Bob will probably wait until some significant amount of time passes and then judge his decision based upon its outcome, or product. If the new job is pleasing to Bob he will feel that he made the good choice. If, however, he feels frustrated at his new job he will declare that it was a bad choice to leave his previous employer.
Neither of these judgments would be fair, as decisions can only be judged at the moment of choice. In other words, Bob must take a look at the process, or how he arrived at his decision. If it was made authentically and with reasoned judgment we can say with confidence that he made a good decision, regardless of outcome. Product, or outcome based judgments, are too capricious and subject to random chance. There are simply too many influencing factors that can affect outcome that are beyond our control. Just because something works out or fails does not in any way change the merits of how one arrives at a decision.