How to improve your decision making

Do you ever find yourself ALWAYS struggling over a decision, always uncertain of what choice you should make? An article in the Harvard Business Review gives a few ways to help improve your decision making. The article talks about how you need to have a good idea of how desirable each choice is and how the choices you make will have an impact on later outcomes. “Decision making requires both prediction and judgement”

  1. Be less certain

This involves the phenomenon of overconfidence. If you are very confident that choice A will cause such and such to happen, then you will be more biased towards one decision over the other, which may have bad consequences. If you realize that you may not be as correct as you think you are, you can really evaluate the likelihood of each event and be able to possibly make a better decision.

2. Ask “How often does that typically happen?”

If you are trying to make a big decision, like starting up a company but you are afraid that it is going to fail, you may want to ask yourself historically how often the average companies that are starting up fail. Starting with comparing your decision to other decisions that have worked out or not in the past will help you to figure out the likelihood of the success of your decision. This ties in the base rate, which is the change of some specific event occurring, all things being equal. The likelihood of your plane crashing is very low, and so the fear you have of going on an airplane and the decision to not go to that wedding simply BECAUSE you must go on a plane to get there may not be rational.

While these two ideas can help you improve your decision making, there are still a lot of different factors that get in the way of making the best decisions. Availability can get in the way of you getting on that airplane if you had seen a few plane crashes on the news throughout the week beforehand. Decisions can be tricky because there are so many things that can get in the way and cause you to make an error.


4 thoughts on “How to improve your decision making

  1. pcrickma

    This post brings up some interesting heuristics and biases that we talked about in class that come into play quite often during everyday life. Tversky and Kahneman famously argued that our heuristics lead us to make poor decisions, and it seems as though this article might make a parallel argument. Of course, when making the huge decisions in life, you would want to keep things like overconfidence and the representative heuristic out of the process as much as possible. Our profound ignorance can get in the way when we neglect things like base rates, and regression to the mean, but as we have also seen, our heuristics can lead us to making good snap decisions when we’re in a pinch. Being close and quick is sometimes more valuable than being perfect and taking an eternity to come to the perfect decision. You have brought up a lot of good points, and I agree wholeheartedly that we often make mistakes because of our failure to recognize these heuristics and biases. Thanks for your post!

  2. ewhitese

    Clearly, I need to take advantage of these tips in my life because I am likely one of the more indecisive person on earth. I probably rely too much on heuristics even though its typically with low stakes choices. However, maybe I should continue using it. I like that this article seems to take a stance contrary to most of the research we have talked about with not trusting heuristics because they can lead to errors.

  3. ldanby

    I like how the article tells you to be less certain. This is something I probability haven’t paid enough attention to in my decision making! It is important to address the overconfidence that we have about future situations, because we can never really know whats going to happen next. This is definitely a good tip for reevaluating the way we look at situations to make better choices the first time.

  4. jesseboles

    Your decision to write your blog post on decision making was smart as is completely relates to what we are learning about in class. I like how you made sure to include how availability and biases are important in the decision making processes. It emphasizes how relevant what we are learning about in class is in our everyday life. I struggle with making decision, even substantially small ones, and I think your blog will post will help me with that. What really stuck out to me in your blog post was your statement to “be less certain in your decisions.” I think if I implement these tips into my daily life, I will be able to improve my decision making.

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