Problems with Decision Making and How to Avoid Them

There’s no person in the world that has always made logical decisions. We are creatures with feelings and ambitions, and sometimes these qualities lead to irrational thoughts and choices. Some people try and fix that, making the percentage of healthy “sober” decisions increase, but some need more motivation and help with this.

What Pushes Us Towards Poor Decisions

For decades everyone thought people usually make pretty logical decisions. However, as we get more opportunities to learn about the mental state of humans, we find out there are a lot of errors that affect decision making.

Here are some of the most frequent errors:

  • Survivorship bias.
    There are so many books and articles about the recipes to happiness or wealth shared by successful people. And we read them and rest assured that if we do the same thing, we’ll be just as successful. So we remember only the winners, but what about the losers? There’s always a ton of people who try and fail, who persist but still fail.
  • Availability heuristic.
    You won’t believe if I say that we live in one of the most peaceful times in history. The number of terrorist attacks, wars, rapes, murders actually decreases, but we don’t feel it. Why? Because the ability to report events has skyrocketed. Several decades ago no newspaper could gather as much information about local events as one page on the Internet can.
  • Loss avoidance.
    People tend to get much more frustrated over a loss of something that they get happy over acquiring the same thing. Say, someone gives you $50, which makes you happy, but then you lose the money, and it frustrates you to a much greater extent.

Avoiding Mistakes in Decision-Making

The first thought many people will have after learning about mental errors is that this should stop. Instead, it’s better to just realize that the algorithms our brain uses aren’t always that helpful. So sometimes it’s better to try and look at the situation from afar, cool down, and balance all pros and cons before making a decision.

The key is self-awareness and realization of your brain patterns and reasons you make this or that choice. It’s not always bad to include your feelings into it, and oftentimes such a decision is risky but totally worth it.

Learn more about how your brain works, read about such mental errors and just accept that they exist and we all, without an exception, are using them. If you’re aware of them, it will be much easier to construct a balanced answer to any situation.

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