In psychology, decision-making (निर्णय लेना) is regarded as the cognitive process resulting in the selection of a belief or a course of action among several possible alternative options. It could be either rational or irrational. The decision-making process is a reasoning process based on assumptions of values, preferences, and beliefs of the decision-maker. Every decision-making process produces a final choice, which may or may not prompt action.
What is decision-making?
Decision-making is the process of selecting a course of action or choosing from available alternatives to achieve a specific goal or address a particular problem.
Problem solving vs. Decision making
It is important to differentiate between problem solving, problem analysis, and decision-making. Problem solving is the process of investigating the given information and finding all possible solutions through invention or discovery.
Characteristics of problem solving
- Problems are merely deviations from performance standards.
- The problems must be precisely identified and described
- Problems are caused by a change from a distinctive feature
- Something can always be used to distinguish between what has and hasn’t been affected by a cause
- Causes of problems can be deduced from relevant changes found in analyzing the problem, and
- The most likely cause of a problem is the one that exactly explains all the facts while having the fewest (or weakest) assumptions.
Characteristics of decision-making
- Objectives must first be established
- Objectives must be classified and placed in order of importance
- Alternative actions must be developed
- The alternatives must be evaluated against all the objectives
- The alternative that is able to achieve all the objectives is the tentative decision
- The tentative decision is evaluated for more possible consequences
- Decisive actions are taken, and additional actions are taken to prevent any adverse consequences from becoming problems and starting both systems (problem analysis and decision-making) all over again
- There are steps that are generally followed that result in a decision model that can be used to determine an optimal production plan, and
- In a situation featuring conflict, role-playing may be helpful for predicting decisions to be made by involved parties.
When a group or individual is unable to make it through the problem-solving step on the way to making a decision, they could be experiencing analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis is the state that a person enters where they are unable to make a decision, in effect paralyzing the outcome. Some of the main causes for analysis paralysis are the overwhelming flood of incoming data or the tendency to overanalyze the situation at hand. There are said to be three different types of analysis paralysis.
- The first is analysis process paralysis. This type of paralysis is often spoken of as a cyclical process. One is unable to make a decision because one gets stuck going over the information again and again for fear of making the wrong decision.
- The second is decision precision paralysis. This paralysis is cyclical, just like the first one, but instead of going over the same information, the decision-maker will find new questions and information from their analysis, and that will lead them to explore further possibilities rather than making a decision.
- The third is risk uncertainty paralysis. This paralysis occurs when the decision-maker wants to eliminate any uncertainty but the examination of provided information is unable to get rid of all uncertainty.
Extinction by instinct
On the opposite side of analysis paralysis is the phenomenon called extinction by instinct. Extinction by instinct is the state that a person is in when they make careless decisions without detailed planning or thorough systematic processes.
Extinction by instinct in a group setting
Groupthink is another occurrence that falls under the idea of extinction by instinct. Groupthink is when members in a group become more involved in the “value of the group (and they’re being part of it) higher than anything else”; thus, creating a habit of making decisions quickly and unanimously. In other words, a group stuck in groupthink is participating in the phenomenon of extinction by instinct.
It is “a gap between the volume of information and the tools we have to assimilate”. Information used in decision-making is to reduce or eliminate uncertainty. Excessive information affects problem processing and tasking, which affects decision-making.
Psychologist George Armitage Miller suggests that humans’ decision-making becomes inhibited because human brains can only hold a limited amount of information. Crystal C. Hall and colleagues described an “illusion of knowledge”, which means that as individuals encounter too much knowledge, it can interfere with their ability to make rational decisions. Other names for information overload are information anxiety, information explosion, infobesity, and intoxication.
Decision fatigue is when a sizable amount of decision-making leads to a decline in decision-making skills. People who make decisions for an extended period of time begin to lose the mental energy needed to analyze all possible solutions. Impulsive decision-making and decision avoidance are two possible paths that extend from decision fatigue.
Impulse decisions are made more often when a person is tired of analyzing situations or solutions; the solution they make is to act and not think. Decision avoidance is when a person evades the situation entirely by not ever making a decision. Decision avoidance is different from analysis paralysis because this sensation is about avoiding the situation entirely, while analysis paralysis is continually looking at the decisions to be made but still unable to make a choice.
Evaluation and analysis of past decisions are complementary to decision-making.
What are Decision-making techniques?
What are the Decision-making Steps?
Decision-making among Children, Adolescents, and Adults
How Decision-making can be improved?