Day to day living is full of decisions, big and small. But are the decisions always correct and outcomes proper? Is it possible to develop decision-making skills and make better decisions? What is the process behind our decisions?
Two types of decisions
When we drive a car or do some other activity that we are familiar, it doesn’t need a lot of effort. Actions like driving involve hundreds or millions of micro decision. These decisions are unconscious and automatic. Making fast decision reserves resources for other, more important tasks.
If you are driving and something happens, it draws attention to the new situation and the second kind of decision-making process begins. This decision-making process is slow, conscious, calculating. The decision needs attention and effort. This it makes us think options and results.
These two decision systems first introduced Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking Fast and Slow. Day-to-day decision-making is cooperation between these two different types.
To make better decisions, one has to prioritize processes. This means that important decisions get more attention, while less important decisions are made with ‘gut feeling’. Automating less important decisions makes possible to concentrate on the things that matter most.
Adequate and optimal solutions
There are two types of characters that make decisions. Satisfier is a type of person that first makes criteria for the outcome and after that the decision. The process ends when criteria’s are met. Example when buying a car. The car needs to have certain qualities. When conditions are met the decisions process starts.
Maximizer, on the other hand, tries to find the ideal outcome. The process involves comparing different options and choosing the best. This approach needs information, comparison, and more effort compared to satisfier.
The conclusion is that for decisions, it’s always best to set criteria in advance. The decision-making becomes more straightforward and the boundaries limit the number of options. It’s problematic if the end result should always be the best. The number of options gets large and one could never be sure that the outcome is good enough.
Intuition and Reasoning
Decisions have always the basis on the information. The Intuition, known as ‘gut feeling’, sounds emotional and less precise. The source of intuition is in our earlier experiences and values. Intuition reflex what we have learned from life, being a useful but less accurate source of information. Intuition is mostly used for fast, less important decisions.
The reasoning is a more accurate, relying on facts and figures. Process is more formal, structural and calculating. Reasoning relays on information gathered from various sources or can rely only on one source. Behind reasoning is always facts.
Combining these two elements makes the best result. First by collecting all the information and using reasoning to make an obvious ‘decision’. The decision is then processed a second time using intuition. Intuition is used to get a feeling if the decision is right or wrong. Remember that the best decision is something that you can prove to yourself and others.
Biases and Quality of Information
Personal biases are problematic. Personal decisions are not objective, they rely on experiences, information and believes. There are also external sources of information, also potentially false. What is the reliability and credential of the source and is there a hidden agenda behind the information? This is something to take into consideration when making a decision.
There might be various of sources of information. To make an efficient decision one has to filter all that is unclear and pick the important clues from the sea of knowledge. A good option is to limit the number of sources and make decision based on the most relevant information.
Other person’s opinion is a way to get a new perspective or polish the decision to the perfection. Good decision maker takes many things into consideration, advice, opinions and in the end, makes own decisions based on everything relevant.
Many different decision-making techniques have been developed, ranging from a simple list of pros and cons to extremely complex procedures. The method used depends on the nature of the decision to be made and how complex it is.
Originally posted 2016-06-11 12:00:19.