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How do you make decisions? When we talk about deciding between choices we can break the processes into types. This lesson will fill you in on the different ways to make decisions and give you a few examples of each.

Making Decisions

How did you decide what to put on this morning? Or what classes to take in school? Or what to eat for lunch? We make decisions as part of our everyday routine, from big ones, like marriage or career, to more mundane decisions, like a muffin or bagel. In decision making, many aspects are at play when we need to choose between a set of criteria to decide an outcome.

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Often, we need to make decisions as a group. If you’ve ever played sports or been on a team project at school or work you know how important it is to make decisions using the input of each team member. You may have noticed that not everyone was using the same skills and strategies to choose. This is because there are different ways decisions are made. In other words, we use different skills to make decisions. Let’s take a look at some of these.Decision making is somewhat vague, since there are a complex number of things that influence the choice to be made.

In what time-frame must a decision be made? What are the consequences of not making a decision in that time period? How much information is available? What form does the information take, and how accurate is it? How many people are involved in the decision? How many people will this decision affect? How will this decision be evaluated? The specifics can go on and on.Humans have devised many different ways of making decisions because the situations in which we make them are so incredibly diverse. The process you use to decide what to wear when going to yoga and getting a coffee are totally different than what you use to decide whether or not to accept a marriage proposal.

Decision-Making Types

So how can we categorize decision making? Scientists have noticed a few patterns.The most common type of decision making type is rational. This type of decision making relies heavily on reason and logic for guidance. When you are using rational methods to make a decision, you create a list of possible options and figure out which is best based on what you think those solutions will create.

For example, if your desired outcome is to move out of your parents’ house, you may create a list of all possible solutions, ranging from moving in with a friend, placing an ad for a roommate, or making a go of it on your own. You would then look carefully at each option, research the pros and cons, weigh this data carefully and then make a decision.On the other hand, sometimes decisions are made in the absence of reason and logic.

When you make decisions using your gut instinct, you’re using the intuitive type of decision making. If you decide to look for a roommate and meet someone who just feels ‘off,’ you’re being intuitive. The decision not to become roommates with this person isn’t based on any fact, just a simple deep-rooted feeling.

Sometimes we make decisions based more on our feelings about a situation than anything else. This is an emotional type of decision-making process. For example, when looking for an apartment, you may only want to look at those with hardwood floors. There is no rational reason. You don’t have pets or any logical reason for being drawn to hardwood, you simple like it. Maybe you had hardwood floors when you were a young child, and they remind you of happy times, or maybe you’re simply strongly attracted to the look. Either way, emotional decisions are always based on feelings.

Ever have to make a decision and tried using logic, reasoning, your intuition and feelings but have still gotten nowhere? You may have decided to just make an educated guess. Guessing is a type of decision making that is often resorted to when other options are unavailable or not working. Sometimes we may flip a coin or roll the dice. Can’t decide between a brick bungalow or a high rise because both have equal pull? Go ahead and do rock, papers, scissors to figure it out.

Sometimes we need to throw the idea of one right decision out the window and just make one. The satisficing method of decision making may result because you don’t have time, energy, or resources to use any other method. It is actually a combination of the words ‘satisfy’ and ‘sacrifice’ because both come into play. If you need to move out of your parents’ house immediately and don’t have time for lists and research, you may just end up in a friend’s spare bedroom. This solution gets you what you need (a place away from your parents’ house) but gives up better possibilities at the same time.

Lesson Summary

Decision making is something we do every day, from choosing what to wear, eat, and read to deciding what to do with our time, energy, and lives. There are different types of decision-making processes, things we do to figure out which outcome is best. When deciding what to eat for breakfast, we go through a process: lots of protein for a pre-workout or maybe a grab-and-go for a late start. No matter the end result, there are several types of processes we use. When using reason and logic in a systematic, way we’re being rational, making lists and weighing outcomes. Sometimes we use our intuition or emotions to fuel our decisions, especially those that can’t be arrived at through reason.

If we feel stuck, we often turn to simple guessing. Finally, we could satisfice, or simply pick the first option in situations where we can’t use the other forms of decision making.

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