Alternatives be damned

Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert has coined a new term: "attentional collapse". It means that when you finally pick and follow through with one of two difficult choices the perception that there ever was an alternate choice fades away. The effect is even more pronounced when the choice you make is irrevocable.

Consider the choice to marry one sweetheart over another. If you pick the genial, down-to-earth banker, will you forever regret letting go of that free-spirited artist who loves traveling as much as you? Probably not. The very fact that you'll be living with — and experiencing — one spouse and not the other means that the passed-over option will quickly fade in your mind. "The people you don't marry don't move in with you," says Gilbert.