Decision-making theories come are quite useful. When it’s time to make an important choice, there’s no need to delay.

Whether we are familiar with theories regarding decision-making or not, in this day and age, choice is in abundance. What do we want to eat, which sofa should we purchase, do you get a dog or not? Because we have way too many options, it can make choosing much harder than it should be.

Choice is our ability to make decisions when presented with two or more options. When we have more than two options, we must make a choice. This is what the world presents to us. Therefore, it is the truth of how free will works. We can then live and artistically create the life we want to.

So, why is it so difficult? Ultimately, choice represents the sacrifices we must make. We automatically give up something else when we make a choice between two or more things.

This means, if we find ourselves wanting something else next month, chances are that choice will be gone – non-existent. We have to take what we have today, and this depends on what we choose.

Decision-making theories – the basics

Different approaches to decision-making are sometimes called Choice theories. William Glasser founded this term from a book with the same title. According to Glasser, freedom, fun, power, love and belonging, and survival are basic satisfied needs which come from choices we make.

The idea that choices are mostly made by humans, which enhance what we really want, is an idea that’s been around for quite some time. Choice and the psychology behind it is the reason we make the decisions that we do. It’s a subconscious decision that motivates our satisfaction and meeting those satisfactions.

Here are three decision-making theories that will help you to understand the choices you make. It might even encourage you to make better ones!

1. Our emotions connect to our actions

Neuroscientist and professor at USC and Salk Institute, Dr. Antonio Damasio says that our decisions come from visceral emotion. The definition of his theory is that there is a link between “raw” emotions and the part of the brain which governs decisions. He, therefore, concluded that decision making and judgment come from a critical neural circuit.

Damasio concludes that non-rational and rational processes bridge feeling and emotion. If meaning and motivation, would not be possible if emotional input was absent, and decision making could not happen.

Damasio believes that we don’t only base our choices on logic and fact, but also on memories and emotions. This is why we make decisions on unconscious levels. Our intuition guides us.

2. Decisions can be costly – literally!

Does making decisions result in reduced self-control? A study from the University of Minnesota points to yes. The study also showed more procrastination, lack of ability to persist in failed circumstances, decrease in physical stamina, and worsening of arithmetic abilities

Researchers, to conduct the study asked students for help. After dividing into two groups, the teams take on studies much like the others but to understand how choices affect things. Identical product lists were given to all the students in the initial experiment.

A singular group was asked questions revolved around how often, in the past, that the product was used. However, one group was about how often they’d used the products in the past. The same product, with variations, were chosen by the other group. In another experiment, one group answered questions such as this and the other did not.

“Making choices apparently depleted a precious self-resource,” wrote the authors in the conclusion of their study. “This is because subsequent self-regulation is poorer among those who had made choices than it was among those who had not. This pattern became clear in the laboratory, classroom, and shopping mall.”

3. Watch out for bias!

There is absolutely no doubt that our biases affect our choices. However, there is one particular bias that focuses on decision-making theories in many situations.

Loss aversion bias is one such example. No one likes to be left out or miss important things. Fact. However, it isn’t as important to gain something than it is to avoid losing something. This is the way aversion works. The endowment effect shows us through our desire to keep what we have instead of striving for more.

Daniel Kahneman, in yet another study, gave test subjects either an empty mug, nothing or chocolate.  They could trade or choose between two other objects. Half of them wanted the mugs, but those who already had mugs did not want to give them up – about 86% of participants, showing the desire to keep the possessions a person already has.

How to make hard decisions easier

Choices are hard, you see. I guess you understand now. No matter what, some choices you make will always be hard. However, some of these decision-making theories might just help you understand your own choices.

We don’t always have a rational reason to make decisions. They cannot separate from our identity, our location, or what helps us decide what to wear. Maybe we will be able to make wiser choices and help others make proper decisions too, as long as we understand psychological influences and factors that affect our decisions.

References:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com
  2. https://www.forbes.com


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