A Virtue of Imprecise Measurements

I’ve talked about The Importance of Precise Estimates. In that post, I said,

My advice is to

  • measure your progress
  • watch the trends
  • project the trends tentatively into the future

and relax.  It’ll work out the best it can.  False precision won’t make it any better.

Now I just read The Virtues of the Imprecisely Measured Self by Alex Knapp at Forbes. He tells the tale of a study in the journal Psychological Science April 2011 that indicates that precision, whether false or not, inhibits success.  Alex summarizes,

Precision can actually be the enemy of performance goals. To be sure, feedback is definitely a positive thing. But it appears that if you want to keep yourself motivated, it’s best to get a more generalized, imprecise feedback that lets you know you’re heading in the right direction, rather than the precise coordinates of where you are on the path.

It’s something to think about.


2 Replies to “A Virtue of Imprecise Measurements”

  1. Hi George. Maybe Heisenberg has something to do with that… you can’t really know where you are and where you’re headed at the same time… and though we might SAY we want to know where we are, what would be even better is to know whether it’s all going to turn out OK in the end!



  2. I noticed something similar while reading kindle books:

    For some reason I’m much more encouraged to keep reading when I see 12% done then when I see page numbers.

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