The Dilemma of Decision Making in Humans Research Paper


We humans make a whole lot of important decisions daily. While some are very unconscious biological decisions, most are decisions arising from conscious efforts. All human activities center on decision-making. This makes all of us decision-makers. As a matter of fact, every sound decision choice begins with a successive, focused, strategic-thinking process. Self-incurred tutelage still holds a whole lot of people bound. Tutelage simply implies that the person involved is unable to make his or her own decisions. In this tutelage, self-incurred is not based on the inability to reason, but may be due to lack on courage and resolution to make use of it without anything or anyone telling that individual what to do (Arsham, 2015).

How Human Beings Make both Risky and Logical Decisions

People are inundated with both big and small decisions daily. One area of cognitive psychology that has received lots of attention is, understanding how people come to make the choices they make. Several factors have been found to affect decision-making. Factors such as cognitive prejudices (Stanovich & West, 2008), individual differences and age (deBruin, Parke, & Fischoff, 2007), beliefs in personal significance (Acevedo, & Krueger, 2004), and an increase of commitment, all have great impacts on the choices made by people (Juliusson, Karlsson, & Garling, 2005). Having a good understanding of all the influential factors that affect the processes involved in decision making makes it easy for one to understand the decisions that were made. This means that it is possible for factors that affect the decision making processes to affect the outcomes (Dietrich, 2010).

Future experiences can be affected by past experiences. According to Juliusson, Karlson, and Garling (2005), experiences had in the past can affect decision-making in the future. It indicates that when a decision leads to something positive, it is likely that people will make similar decisions in related situations. People, on the other hand, tend to avoid repeating a mistake they made in the past. This is so important that all future decisions influenced by certain past experiences are often not the best of decisions. When it comes to decision making choices that involve finances, people who are highly successful hardly make any investment decision based on the outcomes of their past miscalculations. Rather, they carry out an examination of choices without considering any past experiences; this is in conflict with popular expectations (Jullisson. Karlsson, & Garling, 2005).

Adding to past experiences. a number of cognitive prejudices influence the process of decision-making. Cognitive prejudices are patterns of reasoning based on generalizations and observations that may possibly result in memory errors, faulty logic, and inaccurate judgments. Cognitive prejudices include, but not restricted to: belief prejudices (dependence on past knowledge in making decisions); omission prejudices (mostly, people deliberately leave out any piece of information they see as being risky); hindsight prejudices (once an event happens, people tend to readily explain it as an inevitability); and confirmation prejudice (where people make an observation of their expectations in the situation (Dietrich, 2010).

In making decisions, individuals are influenced by cognitive prejudices. These cause them to rely upon, and have more belief on their prior knowledge and expected observations. Simultaneously, they ignore any observations or information believed to be unsure, without considering the bigger picture. While poor decisions may be made due to this influence sometimes, the cognitive prejudices help people make effective decisions with the aid of heuristics (Shah & Oppenheimer, 2008).

In addition to cognitive prejudices and past experiences, it is possible for fallen outcomes and escalated commitment to influence decision-making. These are both unrecoverable costs. Juliusson, Karlsson, and Garling (2005) state that most decisions people make are based on an illogical rise in commitment. In other words, more efforts, time, and money are invested by individuals to any decision they are committed to. Additionally, whenever people feel they are responsible for money, time, efforts, and costs invested on any project, they will continue to take risky decisions. Consequently, decision-making may most times be determined by how committed or involved the person thinks he or she is (Jullisson, Karlsson, & Garling).

Certain individual differences are also known to have a great influence on decision-making. According to research, cognitive abilities, age, and social economic status (SES) all have great influence on decision-making. Finucane et al. (2005) developed an important variation in decision making at different ages. This work indicates that because cognitive roles reduce due to age, the performance of decision-making may decrease as well. Additionally, there is a tendency for older individuals to be more confident regarding their ability to make sound decisions, which hinders their ability to put sound strategies into application. Conclusively, in consideration of age, there is overwhelming evidence in support of the view that people are more likely to opt for fewer choices when they are older than when they fall into the younger adults’ age brackets. Age is just a singular variation that has a huge influence on decision-making (Dietrich, 2010).

Techniques individuals employ as a way favoring rational decision making against risky decision making.

1. What goals do you wish to achieve? Choose the goal that is in support of your major values. We all have a group of values we love to uphold in our lives; even organizations have their values. These values must be able to be expressed in a measurable and/or numerical scale. This is important in determining your value rank. Certain questions such as what you want can be quite difficult to answer due to the several conflicts among our wishes and desires, which we mostly cannot bear to ask. Discover all necessary actions you are able to take, and make efforts to gather as much information as possible concerning each of them. Information can be classified into tacit and explicit forms. The tacit forms of information can be quite fuzzy and inconsistent to explain, while the explicit forms are explained in a well structured form. All information about the main course of actions can also enlarge your set of options. Having more options will always enable you make better decisions. Being creative in the process involved in making decisions is rooted in the ability to carry out a proper evaluation of conflicting and hazardous information.

2. Foresee the result of every individual course of action by taking a look into the future.

3. Go for the best option that has the lowest amount of risk in actualizing your goals.

4. Execute your decision. Unless you put your decision into practice, it simply means nothing. A decision is nothing but a daydream until it has a specific plan of action backing it. No task that involves policy-making and careful strategizing can be said to be easy; nevertheless, the techniques and procedures outlined here can be employed for the improvement of procedural logicality in the course of strategizing. The effectiveness and efficiency of this kind of applications solely depend on the choice of strategizing procedure.


Only a few topics can be said to be more important than logical decision-making and risk bearing, as can be seen from the contributions to this important issue. If we consider the consequences and risks involved in substance use, smoking, violent crime, reckless living, and unprotected sex, all we get is a picture of the conventional, illogical risk taker (Reyna & Rivers, 2008). Perceptions of risks form decisions to minimize exposure to STDs, go to war, take anti-smallpox vaccinations, report apprehensive diseases to community health authorities, or to take in a patient with chest pain who might be at the risk of a heart attack in a hospital. Predictive theories are now offered by psychological sciences that give proper explanation to dangerous prejudices in the reasoning about risks and provide more insights into the best approach to employ towards correcting these prejudices. Particularly, studies of memory supply a very rich collection of concepts that have been tested empirically. These offer more explanations to the psychology of risk: the double verbatim encoding and general idea representations of any information and relying on the latter as often as possible; the reliance of reasoning on recovery signs that bring forth principles and values stockpile in long-term memory; and the susceptibility of logic about risk to processing intrusion from classes of events that do overlap, which results in denominator neglect (Reyna, 2004).


Acevedo, M., & Krueger, J. (2004). Two egocentric sources of the decision to vote: The voter’s illusion and belief in personal relevance. Political Psychology, 115-134.

Arsham, H. (2015, September 8). Applied Management Science: Making Good Strategic Decisions. Retrieved from

deBruin, W., Parker, A., & Fischoff, B. (2007). Individual differences in adult decision- making competence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology., 938-956.

Dietrich, C. (2010). Decision Making: Factors that Influence Decision Making, Heuristics Used, and Decision Outcomes. Retrieved from Student Pulse: influence-decision-making-heuristics-used-and-decision-outcomes

Finucane, M., Mertz, C., Slovic, P., & Schmidt, E. (2005). Task complexity and older adults’ decision-making competence. Psychology and Aging, 71-84.

Jullisson, E., Karlsson, N., & Garling, T. (2005). Weighing the past and…

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