What determines our decisions

decisions

The benefit is crucial

In psychology, the basic assumption is that the decision-making process consists of first identifying alternatives and gathering information in order to then evaluate the options. On this basis there is an intention to act, a decision. The expected benefit plays a decisive role here.

However, the US-American economist Herbert Simon limited: humans are not able to achieve the maximum benefit because they can never know all the alternatives and consequences in their decisions.

An example: if you don't know which profession to learn, you cannot get to know all the professions that exist in this world and derive the right consequences from the flood of information.

Simon calls this "limited rationality". He therefore formulates the "satisficing rule": Before making a decision, it is considered which requirements must be met. As soon as an option meets these requirements, it is chosen.

Examine options carefully

Simon's objections led decision research to increasingly deal with the question of which other strategies - besides maximizing utility - people use to come to a solution.

The scientists differentiate between analytical and non-analytical strategies. When applying analytical decision-making strategies, the alternatives are carefully considered and their consequences are assessed.

Either all elements of an option are taken into account - for example price, engine power and color when buying a car. Or just a single criterion that stands out from all other alternatives - for example, if you absolutely want a pink car and only one manufacturer offers it. After this analysis, the decision is made.

The experience is important

It is different with non-analytical strategies: This is what we talk about when you toss coins or orient yourself towards the behavior of other people. Often, however, experience plays a role in non-analytical strategies, especially in everyday decisions: Through routine we decide in favor of butter or margarine, soap or shower gel without much thought.

Psychologists have found that you rarely deviate from your habits, even when there are facts that may speak against it.

Only when there are negative consequences of this routine decision are people ready to move away from it. So if you take the bus every day and digest heavy food at lunchtime, even though you know that there are healthier alternatives, you may only prefer a bike and salad if your doctor presents you with high cholesterol levels.