Decisions Essays Featured — 11 October 2017

To be or not to be, to act or not to act, to re-act or not to re-act; those are questions for all of us. Marc delves into the topic of decision-making.

Decisions
Nathalie Talec; The one who sees blindly, 2011-12

I remember that even when I was young, I was quite conscious about taking decisions. At home, in an intellectual family, we were encouraged to make decisions consciously. What will you do with your pocket money, buy a book or buy clothing? What can happen if… What will you do if…  How does it feel…? Sometimes it is hard to take decisions, even about small items. (Is yoghurt something to drink or to eat, shall I use this word or that?) Taking decisions is a process of experience, guts, creativity, logic and feelings. Osho says,

“So if there is a conflict go deep into it. Decide something. Only through decisions do you become more and more conscious, only through decisions do you become more and more crystallised, only through decisions do you become sharp. Otherwise one becomes dull.

“People go on from one guru to another, from one master to another, from one temple to another – not because they are great seekers but because they are incapable of decision. So they go from one to another. This is their way to avoid commitment.”

Decision-making can be regarded as the process resulting in the selection of a course of action among several alternative scenarios. Every decision-making process produces a final choice; the output can be an action or an opinion of choice.

Human performance in decision terms has been the subject of research from several perspectives:

  • From a psychological perspective, it is necessary to examine individual decisions in the context of a set of needs, preferences an individual has and values they seek.
  • From a cognitive perspective, the decision-making process must be regarded as a continuous process integrated in the interaction with the environment.
  • From a normative perspective, the analysis of individual decisions is concerned with the logic of decision-making and rationality and the invariant choice it leads to.
Cognitive and personal biases

Here is a list of commonly debated biases in judgment and decision-making:

  • Selective search for evidence – People tend to be willing to gather facts that support certain conclusions but disregard other facts that support different conclusions.
  • Premature termination of search for evidence – People tend to accept the first alternative that looks like it might work.
  • Cognitive inertia – Unwillingness to change existing thought patterns in the face of new circumstances.
  • Selective perception – We actively screen out information that we do not think is important.
  • Wishful thinking – A tendency to want to see things in a positive light, which can distort perception and thinking.
  • Choice – Supportive bias occurs when people distort their memories of chosen and rejected options to make the chosen options seem more attractive.
  • Recency – People tend to place more attention on more recent information and either ignore or forget more distant information.
  • Repetition bias – A willingness to believe what one has been told most often and by the greatest number of different sources.
  • Anchoring and adjustment – Decisions are unduly influenced by initial information that shapes our view of subsequent information.
  • Group think – Peer pressure to conform to the opinions held by the group.
  • Source credibility bias – A tendency to reject a person’s statement on the basis of a bias against the person, organization, or group to which the person belongs. People preferentially accept statements by others that they like.
  • Incremental decision-making and escalating commitment – We look at a decision as a small step in a process and this tends to perpetuate a series of similar decisions. This can be contrasted with zero-based decision-making.
  • Attribution asymmetry – People tend to attribute their own success to internal factors, including abilities and talents, but explain their failures in terms of external factors such as bad luck. The reverse bias is shown when people explain others’ success or failure.
  • Role fulfillment – A tendency to conform to others’ decision-making expectations.
  • Underestimating uncertainty and the illusion of control – People tend to underestimate future uncertainty because of a tendency to believe they have more control over events than they really do.
  • Framing bias is best avoided by using numeracy with absolute measures of efficacy.
  • Sunk-cost fallacy is a specific type of framing effect that affects decision-making. It involves an individual making a decision about a current situation based on what they have previously invested in the situation. A possible example to this would be an individual that is refraining from dropping a class that they are most likely to fail, due to the fact that they feel as though they have done already so much work in the course thus far.
  • Prospect theory involves the idea that when faced with a decision-making event, an individual is more likely to take on a risk when evaluating potential losses, and more likely to avoid risks when evaluating potential gains. This can influence one’s decision-making depending if the situation entails a threat, or opportunity.

In times of turmoil it is not easy to make the right decisions. Shit happens. When I go inside, there is silence, the answer. I am glad that most of my decisions in life worked out well, despite my inabilities, insecurities and biases!

Quote by Osho from
Dang Dang Doko Dang, Ch 8, Q 3 (excerpt)

Thanks to Wikipedia – more articles in Osho News on Decision-Making

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