Wednesday, January 4, 2006

The Hidden Traps in Decision Making

HBR Sept–Oct 1998 - by John S Hammond, Ralph L Keeney, and Howard Raiffa

The punch line of this article is that your own mind may be your worst enemy in decision making. We make decisions everyday from picking a route when driving to deciding who to lunch with and meeting schedules during the day. We take it for granted that we are making wise decisions most of the time without examining what is the mechanism under the hood of the decision making machine, i.e. our mind. Researchers and behavioral scientists attempted to uncover how our mind works for decision making and give us advices on how to avoid hidden traps.

Most decisions during the day were routines as few examples above. We use unconscious routines for trivial decisions but also for complex ones. These routines, known as heuristics, serve us well in most situations. In the article few well-documented psychological traps are discussed.

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