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Choice involves decision making. It can include judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one or more of them. One can make a choice between imagined options or between real options followed by the corresponding action. For example, a traveler might choose a route for a journey based on the preference of arriving at a given destination as soon as possible. The preferred (and therefore chosen) route can then follow from information such as the length of each of the possible routes, traffic conditions, etc. The arrival at a choice can include more complex motivators such as cognition, instinct, and feeling.
A preference is a technical term in psychology, economics and philosophy usually used in relation to choosing between alternatives. For example, someone prefers A over B if they would rather choose A than B.
Cognition is "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as attention, the formation of knowledge, memory and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning and "computation", problem solving and decision making, comprehension and production of language. Cognitive processes use existing knowledge and generate new knowledge.
Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behavior. The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern (FAP), in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a corresponding clearly defined stimulus.
Simple choices might include what to eat for dinner or what to wear on a Saturday morning – choices that have relatively low-impact on the chooser's life overall. More complex choices might involve (for example) what candidate to vote for in an election, what profession to pursue, a life partner, etc. – choices based on multiple influences and having larger ramifications.
Personal life is the course of an individual's life, especially when viewed as the sum of personal choices contributing to one's personal identity.
Freedom of choice is generally cherished, whereas a severely limited or artificially restricted choice can lead to discomfort with choosing, and possibly an unsatisfactory outcome. In contrast, a choice with excessively numerous options may lead to confusion, reduced satisfaction, regret of the alternatives not taken, and indifference in an unstructured existence; 63 and the illusion that choosing an object or a course, necessarily leads to the control of that object or course, can cause psychological problems.[ citation needed ]:
There are four main types of decisions, although they can be expressed in different ways. Brian Tracy breaks them down into:
Brian Tracy is a Canadian-American motivational public speaker and self-development author. He is the author of over seventy books that have been translated into dozens of languages. His popular books are Earn What You're Really Worth, Eat That Frog!, and The Psychology of Achievement.
A fifth type, however, or fourth if avoided and "no-brainer" decisions are combined as one type, is the collaborative decision, which should be made in consultation with, and by agreement of others. Collaborative Decision Making revolutionized air-traffic safety by not deferring to the captain when a lesser crew member becomes aware of a problem.
The pilot in command (PIC) of an aircraft is the person aboard the aircraft who is ultimately responsible for its operation and safety during flight. This would be the captain in a typical two- or three-pilot aircrew, or "pilot" if there is only one certificated and qualified pilot at the controls of an aircraft. The PIC must be legally certificated to operate the aircraft for the specific flight and flight conditions, but need not be actually manipulating the controls at any given moment. The PIC is the person legally in charge of the aircraft and its flight safety and operation, and would normally be the primary person liable for an infraction of any flight rule.
Another way of looking at decisions focuses on the thought mechanism used, is the decision:
Recognizing that "type" is an imprecise term, an alternate way to classify types of choices is to look at outcomes and the impacted entity. For example, using this approach three types of choices would be:
In this approach, establishing the types of choices makes it possible to identify the related decisions that will influence and constrain a specific choice as well as be influenced and constrained by another choice.
There are many "executive decision maker" products available, such as the decision wheelsand the Magic 8-Ball, which randomly produce yes/no or other "decisions" for someone who cannot make up their mind or just wants to delegate.
As a moral principle, decisions should be made by those most affected by the decision, but this is not normally applied to persons in jail, who might likely make a decision other than to remain in jail.Robert Gates cited this principle in allowing photographs of returning war dead.
When choosing between options one must make judgments about the quality of each option's attributes. For example, if one is choosing between candidates for a job, the quality of relevant attributes such as previous work experience, college or high school GPA, and letters of recommendation will be judged for each option and the decision will likely be based on these attribute judgments. However, each attribute has a different level of evaluability, that is, the extent to which one can use information from that attribute to make a judgment.
An example of a highly evaluable attribute is the SAT score. It is widely known in the United States that an SAT score below 800 is very bad while an SAT score above 1500 is exceptionally good. Because the distribution of scores on this attribute is relatively well known it is a highly evaluable attribute. Compare the SAT score to a poorly evaluable attribute, such as the number of hours spent doing homework. Most employers would not know what 10,000 hours spent doing homework means because they have no idea of the distribution of scores of potential workers in the population on this attribute.
As a result, evaluability can cause preference reversals between joint and separate evaluations. For example, Hsee, George Loewenstein, Blount & Bazerman (1999)looked at how people choose between options when they are directly compared because they are presented at the same time or when they cannot be compared because one is only given a single option. The canonical example is a hiring decision made about two candidates being hired for a programming job. Subjects in an experiment were asked to give a starting salary to two candidates, Candidate J and Candidate S. However, some viewed both candidates at the same time (joint evaluation), whereas others only viewed one candidate (separate evaluation). Candidate J had experience of 70 KY programs, and a GPA of 2.5, whereas Candidate S had experience of 10 KY programs and a GPA of 3.9. The results showed that in joint evaluation both candidates received roughly the same starting salary from subjects, who apparently thought a low GPA but high experience was approximately equal to a high GPA but low experience. However, in the separate evaluation, subjects paid Candidate S, the one with the high GPA, substantially more money. The explanation for this is that KY programs is an attribute that is difficult to evaluate and thus people cannot base their judgment on this attribute in separate evaluation.
Personal factors determine food choice. They are preference, associations, habits, ethnic heritage, tradition, values, social pressure, emotional comfort, availability, convenience, economy, image, medical conditions, and nutrition.
A number of research studies in economic psychology have focused on how individual behavior differs when the choice set size (the number of choices to choose from) is low versus when it is high. Of particular interest is whether individuals are more likely to purchase a product from a large versus a small choice set. Currently, the effect of choice set size on the probability of a purchase is unclear. In some cases, large choice set sizes discourage individuals from making a choiceand in other cases it either encourages them or has no effect. One study compared the allure of more choice to the tyranny of too much choice. Individuals went virtual shopping in different stores that had a randomly determined set of choices ranging from 4 to 16, with some being good choices and some being bad. Researchers found a stronger effect for the allure of more choice. However, they speculate that due to random assignment of number of choices and goodness of those choices, many of the shops with fewer choices included zero or only one option that was reasonably good, which may have made it easier to make an acceptable choice when more options were available.
There is some evidence that while greater choice has the potential to improve a person's welfare, sometimes there is such a thing as too much choice. For example, in one experiment involving a choice of free soda, individuals explicitly requested to choose from six as opposed to 24 sodas, where the only benefit from the smaller choice set would be to reduce the cognitive burden of the choice.A recent study supports this research, finding that human services workers indicated preferences for scenarios with limited options over extensive-options scenarios. As the number of choices within the extensive-options scenarios increased, the preference for limited options increased as well. Attempts to explain why choice can demotivate someone from a purchase have focuses on two factors. One assumes that perusing a larger number of choices imposes a cognitive burden on the individual. The other assumes that individuals can experience regret if they make a suboptimal choice, and sometimes avoid making a choice to avoid experiencing regret.
Further research has expanded on choice overload, suggesting that there is a paradox of choice. As increasing options are available, three problems emerge. First, there is the issue of gaining adequate information about the choices in order to make a decision. Second, having more choices leads to an escalation of expectation. When there are increased options, people's standards for what is an acceptable outcome rise; in other words, choice “spoils you.” Third, with many options available, people may come to believe they are to blame for an unacceptable result because with so many choices, they should have been able to pick the best one. If there is one choice available, and it ends up being disappointing, the world can be held accountable. When there are many options and the choice that one makes is disappointing, the individual is responsible.
However, a recent meta-analysis of the literature on choice overload calls such studies into question (Scheibehenne, Greigeneder, and Todd, 2010). In many cases, researchers have found no effect of choice set size on people's beliefs, feelings, and behavior. Indeed, overall, the effect of "too many options" is minimal at best.
While it might be expected that it is preferable to keep one's options open, research has shown that having the opportunity to revise one's decisions leaves people less satisfied with the decision outcome.A recent study found that participants experienced higher regret after having made a reversible decision. The results suggest that reversible decisions cause people to continue to think about the still relevant choice options, which might increase dissatisfaction with the decision and regret.
Individual personality plays a significant role in how individuals deal with large choice set sizes. Psychologists have developed a personality test that determines where an individual lies on the satisficer-maximizer spectrum. A maximizer is one who always seeks the very best option from a choice set, and may anguish after the choice is made as to whether it was indeed the best. Satisficers may set high standards but are content with a good choice, and place less priority on making the best choice. Due to this different approach to decision-making, maximizers are more likely to avoid making a choice when the choice set size is large, probably to avoid the anguish associated with not knowing whether their choice was optimal.One study looked at whether the differences in choice satisfaction between the two are partially due to a difference in willingness to commit to one's choices. It found that maximizers reported a stronger preference for retaining the ability to revise choices. Additionally, after making a choice to buy a poster, satisficers offered higher ratings of their chosen poster and lower ratings of the rejected alternatives. Maximizers, however, were less likely to change their impressions of the posters after making their choice which left them less satisfied with their decision.
Maximizers are less happy in life, perhaps due to their obsession with making optimal choices in a society where people are frequently confronted with choice.One study found that maximizers reported significantly less life satisfaction, happiness, optimism, and self-esteem, and significantly more regret and depression, than did satisficers. In regards to buying products, maximizers were less satisfied with consumer decisions and were more regretful. They were also more likely to engage in social comparison, where they analyze their relative social standing among their peers, and to be more affected by social comparisons in which others appeared to be in higher standing than them. For example, maximizers who saw their peer solve puzzles faster than themselves expressed greater doubt about their own abilities and showed a larger increase in negative mood. On the other hand, people who refrain from taking better choices through drugs or other forms of escapism tend to be much happier in life.
Others[ who? ] say that there is never too much choice and that there is a difference between happiness and satisfaction: a person who tries to find better decisions will often be dissatisfied, but not necessarily unhappy since his attempts at finding better choices did improve his lifestyle (even if it wasn't the best decision he will continually try to incrementally improve the decisions he takes).
Choice architecture is the process of encouraging people to make good choices through grouping and ordering the decisions in a way that maximizes successful choices and minimizes the number of people who become so overwhelmed by complexity that they abandon the attempt to choose. Generally, success is improved by presenting the smaller or simpler choices first, and by choosing and promoting sensible default options.
Certain choices, as personal preferences, can be central to expressing one's concept of self-identity or values. In general, the more utilitarian an item, the less the choice says about a person's self-concept. Purely functional items, such as a fire extinguisher, may be chosen solely for function alone, but non-functional items, such as music, clothing fashions, or home decorations, may instead be chosen to express a person's concept of self-identity or associated values.
Sophia Rosenfeld analyses critical reactions to choice in her reviewof some of the work of Iyengar, Ben-Porath, Greenfield, and Salecl.
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Rational choice theory, also known as choice theory or rational action theory, is a framework for understanding and often formally modeling social and economic behavior. The basic premise of rational choice theory is that aggregate social behavior results from the behavior of individual actors, each of whom is making their individual decisions. The theory also focuses on the determinants of the individual choices.
Satisficing is a decision-making strategy or cognitive heuristic that entails searching through the available alternatives until an acceptability threshold is met. The term satisficing, a portmanteau of satisfy and suffice, was introduced by Herbert A. Simon in 1956, although the concept was first posted in his 1947 book Administrative Behavior. Simon used satisficing to explain the behavior of decision makers under circumstances in which an optimal solution cannot be determined. He maintained that many natural problems are characterized by computational intractability or a lack of information, both of which preclude the use of mathematical optimization procedures. He observed in his Nobel Prize in Economics speech that "decision makers can satisfice either by finding optimum solutions for a simplified world, or by finding satisfactory solutions for a more realistic world. Neither approach, in general, dominates the other, and both have continued to co-exist in the world of management science".
In psychology, decision-making is regarded as the cognitive process resulting in the selection of a belief or a course of action among several alternative possibilities. Decision-making is the process of identifying and choosing alternatives based on the values, preferences and beliefs of the decision-maker. Every decision-making process produces a final choice, which may or may not prompt action.
Status quo bias is an emotional bias; a preference for the current state of affairs. The current baseline is taken as a reference point, and any change from that baseline is perceived as a loss. Status quo bias should be distinguished from a rational preference for the status quo ante, as when the current state of affairs is objectively superior to the available alternatives, or when imperfect information is a significant problem. A large body of evidence, however, shows that status quo bias frequently affects human decision-making.
Buyer's remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item such as a vehicle or real estate.
Freedom of choice describes an individual's opportunity and autonomy to perform an action selected from at least two available options, unconstrained by external parties.
George Freud Loewenstein is an American educator and economist. He is the Herbert A. Simon Professor of Economics and Psychology in the Social and Decision Sciences Department at Carnegie Mellon University and director of the Center for Behavioral Decision Research. He is a leader in the fields of behavioral economics and neuroeconomics. He is the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud.
Choice-supportive bias or post-purchase rationalization is the tendency to retroactively ascribe positive attributes to an option one has selected and/or to demote the forgone options. It is part of Cognitive science, and is a distinct cognitive bias that occurs once a decision is made. For example, if a person chooses option A instead of option B, they are likely to ignore or downplay the faults of option A while amplifying or subscribing new negative faults to option B. Conversely, they are also likely to notice and amplify the advantages of option A and not notice or de-emphasize those of option B.
Distinction bias, a concept of decision theory, is the tendency to view two options as more distinctive when evaluating them simultaneously than when evaluating them separately.
The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less is a 2004 book by American psychologist Barry Schwartz. In the book, Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.
Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don't seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.
Disappointment is the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations or hopes to manifest. Similar to regret, it differs in that a person who feels regret focuses primarily on the personal choices that contributed to a poor outcome, while a person feeling disappointment focuses on the outcome itself. It is a source of psychological stress. The study of disappointment—its causes, impact, and the degree to which individual decisions are motivated by a desire to avoid it—is a focus in the field of decision analysis, as disappointment is, along with regret, one of two primary emotions involved in decision-making.
Overchoice or choice overload is a cognitive process in which people have a difficult time making a decision when faced with many options. The term was first introduced by Alvin Toffler in his 1970 book, Future Shock.
Choice architecture is the design of different ways in which choices can be presented to consumers, and the impact of that presentation on consumer decision-making. For example, the number of choices presented, the manner in which attributes are described, and the presence of a "default" can all influence consumer choice. As a result, advocates of libertarian paternalism and asymmetric paternalism have endorsed the deliberate design of choice architecture to nudge consumers toward personally and socially desirable behaviors like saving for retirement, choosing healthier foods, or registering as an organ donor. These interventions are often justified by the fact that well-designed choice architectures can compensate for irrational decision-making biases to improve consumer welfare. These techniques have consequently become popular among policymakers, leading to the creation of the UK's Behavioural Insights Team and White House "Nudge Unit" for example. While many behavioral scientists stress that there is no neutral choice architecture and that consumers maintain autonomy and freedom of choice despite manipulations of choice architecture, critics of libertarian paternalism often argue that choice architectures designed to overcome irrational decision biases may impose costs on rational agents, for example by limiting choice or undermining respect for individual human agency and moral autonomy.
Itamar Simonson is a professor of marketing, holding the Sebastian S. Kresge Chair of Marketing in the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. He is known for his work on the factors that determine the choices that buyers make. His academic career started at the University of California at Berkeley, where he taught for six years, before he moved to Stanford. Many of his former PhD students hold senior positions at some of the best universities in the world.
Sheena S. Iyengar is the S.T. Lee Professor of Business in the Management Department at Columbia Business School, widely and best known as an expert on choice. Her research focuses on the many facets of decision making, including: why people want choice, what affects how and what we choose, and how we can improve our decision making. She has presented TED talks on choice and is the author of The Art of Choosing (2010).
The less-is-better effect is a type of preference reversal that occurs when the lesser or smaller alternative of a proposition is preferred when evaluated separately, but not evaluated together. The term was first proposed by Christopher Hsee.
The memory system plays a key role in the decision-making process because individuals constantly choose among alternative options. Due to the volume of decisions made, much of the decision-making process is unconscious and automatic. Information about how a decision is made is remembered and used for future decisions. Memory is susceptible to biases, but it is integral to the formation of preferences and to differentiation between choices.
Maximization is a style of decision-making characterized by seeking the best option through an exhaustive search through alternatives. It is contrasted with satisficing, in which individuals evaluate options until they find one that is "good enough".
Debiasing is the reduction of bias, particularly with respect to judgment and decision making. Biased judgment and decision making is that which systematically deviates from the prescriptions of objective standards such as facts, logic, and rational behavior or prescriptive norms. Biased judgment and decision making exists in consequential domains such as medicine, law, policy, and business, as well as in everyday life. Investors, for example, tend to hold onto falling stocks too long and sell rising stocks too quickly. Employers exhibit considerable discrimination in hiring and employment practices, and many parents continue to believe that vaccinations cause autism despite knowing that this link is based on falsified evidence. At an individual level, people who exhibit less decision bias have more intact social environments, reduced risk of alcohol and drug use, lower childhood delinquency rates, and superior planning and problem solving abilities.
What if the real problem is the imperative of making all those choices in all those different realms, from sex to software, in the first place? This is the view of a small number of philosophers, legal theorists and culturally aware psychologists, including Barry Schwartz and, more recently, Sheena Iyengar, Sigal Ben-Porath, Kent Greenfield and Renata Salecl. They insist that we have become overwhelmed and even “tyrannized” by our culture’s overinvestment in choice.
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