When you come to a fork in the road, take it. - Yogi Berra

Decision Making

Copyright 2004 David A. Wheeler, Ph.D., PHR, CMT NoStress@mail.com   Last updated 10/11/05 04:09 PM

Decision Making Styles

  1. *Rational Decision Making: Gathering data, weighing your choices, make decision
  2. Hypervigilant: Gathers too much data, can never make decision
  3. *Ethical: based on moral principles
  4. *Intuitive: Based on a knowledge of who you are and your priorities
  5. Impulsive: Does what feels best now
  6. Dependent: relies on others to make decisions
  7. Avoidant: denies that decision has to be made

Seven Step Rational Decision Making Process

  • Identify Core Problem Area
  • Brainstorm Options
  • Gather Data (Matrix, SEU)
  • Commit to Decision

  • Identify Resources
  • Just DO IT
  • Evaluate

Rational Decision Making

  1. Matrix Method
  2. Subjective Expected Utility

Matrix Method
    Fill this table out for each possible option
Consequences Positive Negative
For Self:Short Term . .
For Self:Long Term . .
For Others: Short Term . .
For Others: Long Term . .


Subjective: your own opinion
Expected: probability  0 - 1.0
Utility: how valuable it is to you, ratio scale, -100 to +100

SEU = Subjective probability X Utility

FACTOR Subjective Utility Subjective Probability SEU
Time for fun +30 .1 +3
Grade A +50 .04 +2
Education +60 .01 +.6
Job +80 .001 +.08
Friends -10 .2 -2
    Total SEU +3.68

Intuitive Decision Making

Yogi Berra: When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Decision Making Skills are only necessary when there is a Blockage for Self-Expression

Creativity built stone by stone. -Jeanne Marie Laskas (this link not available on the WWW, only on my hard drive.)

Intuitive Decision Making Techniques

More and More experience

Wear the hat: If things are falling into place, it must be right

Flip a Coin

Internal feeling that someone else is right about your life (Aha!)

Gut Feeling


Luck happens to those who are prepared for it

Estimation: How many grains of sand are there on a beach.

Don't just guess.

Don't do too much analysis.

The Balance: the heavier decision is the one you want to make

Chocolate vs Vanilla

Wisdom of Crowds

A group of people are more likely to come up with the correct answer than an expert if the following conditions are met:

1. Independent decision making

2. Diversity of opinion

3. A means of aggregating the independent decisions.

Errors in Intuitive Decision Making

Algorithm - a method of guaranteeing that you get the right answer.  Usually impossible with human behavior (chaos theory) and usually takes to long if it is possible.

Heuristic: a rule of thumb.  The way the brain really processes information.  Fast but may not come up with right answer.


Gambler's Fallacy

Confirmation Bias

Hindsight bias

Memory Bias: once an event has occurred, you cannot remember how you would have thought about it before hand.

Overconfidence: if you believe you are 100% right, you are actually right 85% of the time.

Polarity Shift: in a group, you go more to the extreme than you would have by yourself

Risky Shift

Conservative Shift

Loss Avoidance

People gamble to avoid a sure loss.

People do not gamble with a sure gain.

Ethical Decision Making


Kohlberg - moral development

Classical Conditioning

Operant Conditioning

Pleasing Others

Following Rules

Following Values (requires taking a stand)

Understanding of who you are and what you believe (requires taking a stand)



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Last modified: 10/06/05