All About Decision-Making

Chocolate or strawberry? Life or death? We make some choices quickly and automatically, relying on mental shortcuts our brains have developed over the years to guide us in the best course of action. Other decisions are agonizing, and deliberation drags on inefficiently. Some factors that can limit the ability to make good decisions include missing or incomplete information, urgent deadlines, and limited physical or emotional resources. When making a decision, we form opinions and choose actions via mental processes which are influenced by biases, reason, emotions, and memories. The simple act of deciding supports the notion that we have free will. We weigh the benefits and costs of our choice, and then we cope with the consequences. New research has some revealing insights into how to make better choices with less associated risk.        

How to Choose Wisely

How do we choose between two or more options that seem equally appealing on the surface? Decision-making usually involves a mixture of intuition and rational thinking; critical factors including personal biases and blind spots are often unconscious, which makes decision-making hard to fully operationalize, or get a handle on. However, there are steps to ensure that people make consistently excellent choices, including gathering as much information as possible, considering all the possible alternatives, as well as their attendant benefits and costs, and taking the time to sleep on weightier decisions.

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