Psychology of Making Good Decisions

Individuals may generate ideas and take actions based on mental processes that are impacted by biases, emotions, reason, and memories while making a choice. Like most Western societies, psychology generally considers individuals autonomous (Capdevila et al., 2015b). Thus, this implies that everyone should aim to be completely in isolation and to function and make choices independently, free of the allegedly contaminating effect of other individuals and social organizations. The notion of self-sufficient individualism has also prompted psychologists to prioritize strategies that examine individuals in solitude. Several theories have been developed to illustrate how people make decisions in the domain of cognitive psychology related to the study of how individuals arrive at their choices.

Although everybody makes choices, not everyone follows the same pattern of objectivity. Psychologists have discovered a variety of prevailing patterns of bias in causal interpretations. The fundamental attribution error, the actor-observer effect, and the false consensus effect are common types of bias. A fundamental attribution error is a propensity to assign the reasons for other people’s behavior to their own dispositions instead of considering the environmental variables that may have influenced people’s conduct (Capdevila et al., 2015b). American participants were asked to analyze a Fidel Castro-related speech in one of the most often referenced studies proving this inaccuracy or prejudice. The remarks were either pro-, anti-, or neutral toward Castro. Notably, some respondents were informed that the speechwriter had an option about the stance to take in the speech, whereas others were told that the speechwriter had no choice. The respondents were then entrusted with determining the author’s genuine opinion about Castro. Even in the absence of a decision, participants committed a fundamental attribution error (Capdevila et al., 2015b). Even though they were informed that the author had no decision on the issue, they saw the writer’s attitude reflected in the speech.

Interesting to note is that when individuals take responsibility for their own decisions, they are less likely to commit the basic attribution error. When talking about the reasons for their acts, it seems people tend to over-utilize external attributions. The actor-observer effect is the term used to describe this phenomenon. The actor-observer effect has the potential to have significant real-world consequences. Take time to consider how jurors are placed in relation to the victim and defendant. Given their position as observers, it is probable that jurors will ascribe the defendant’s behavior to internal factors like personality flaws rather than to the intricacies of the social situation in which they find themselves. Psychologists have claimed that the importance of the actor-observer effect in people’s sense-making has been overestimated in certain instances (Capdevila et al., 2015b). The process of assigning reasons to others is a difficult one. In daily life, the boundary between actor and observer, as well as the contrast between external and internal and attributions, are not always evident. Individuals may readily be placed as both actors and observers, for instance, during group decision-making activities.

It is essential to realize that while individuals may convey attribution bias, this does not imply that bias occurs in a social context. Some psychologists have claimed that when people make attributions, they take into account the inferences and conclusions that others would draw from the same information. If a person believes that other individuals would reach the same conclusion, one might be more certain that their attribution judgment is reasonable. Sometimes, people overestimate the likelihood that individuals would share the same behaviors and thoughts. The term for this is referred to as the false consensus effect (Capdevila et al., 2015b). In one of four experiments done in a certain learning institution, university learners were asked if they would be willing to wear a sandwich board to advertise a restaurant. Those who consented to wear the advertising claimed that most other students would also be willing to do so.

At the same time, those who declined to wear it believed that most of the other learners would do the same. This research reveals that individuals have a tendency to presume that people’s ideas on the social environment are generally shared. According to some psychologists, feeling that others share viewpoints justifies the positions people choose as well as the behaviors they make in their social context.

Overall, individuals have an inaccurate belief in their own ability to completely grasp their feelings and ideas while believing that other people’s insight is mainly untrustworthy. Some stimuli may be deliberately aimed toward people, while others can be detected by their attentional systems (Capdevila et al., 2015a). Individuals who exhibit choice blindness generally lack sensitivity to items that they are required to focus on and draw a conclusion. Choice blindness is the incapacity to recognize when a less-preferred option is provided to substitute for a previously selected option (Capdevila et al., 2015a). In certain research, a sort of change blindness was used to determine what would occur if an individual’s choice for a certain result was at odds with the actual outcome (Capdevila et al., 2015a). In order to do this, participants were shown 15 pairs of images of either similar or different faces. The participant was instructed to choose the most attractive person from each pair.

After participants made a selection in the studies, the face they deemed more appealing was represented, and they were requested to explain their choice. Unbeknownst to the subjects, the face they had rejected (as the less appealing face) in some of these tests was represented as the one they had selected. When a person is asked to assess the relative attributes of something (in this example, facial beauty), one would assume that they would be conscious of their choice and its rationale (Capdevila et al., 2015a). In actuality, only 13% of the deceptions were detected during trials where individuals were tricked (Capdevila et al., 2015a). This percentage fluctuated based on the participant’s inspection duration when the person was given an unrestricted period of time to examine.

In subsequent research, the phenomena of choice blindness were investigated by examining judgments about the flavor of jam and the aroma of tea. In a supermarket, participants were instructed to sample teas and jams. Again, individuals were presented with two options and asked to choose their preferred option. The participants were then instructed to re-smell or re-taste their favorite tea or jam and justify their preference. The experimenters then replaced the chosen tea or jam with the unpreferred jam or tea. Under a range of situations, around 30% of participants identified the misleading aroma or flavor switch, even when the aromas and flavors were highly different (Capdevila et al., 2015a). Emerging research suggests that even while participating in a known experience or doing a familiar activity, people are susceptible to being misled when an unexpected alteration is presented.

Ultimately, everyone should strive to be secluded, to operate and make decisions on their own, free of the supposedly contaminating influence of other people and social groups. When it comes to decision-making in the area of cognitive psychology, which is the study of how people arrive at their choices, a number of theories have been established to show how people make decisions. People’s opinions and conduct within a social context are justifiable if they believe others hold the same perspectives. Psychologists have uncovered a number of trends of bias in causal interpretations that are often seen. The fundamental attribution error, the false consensus effect, and the actor-observer effect are examples of such biases.

Reference List

Capdevila, R., Dixon, J., and Briggs, G. (2015a). Investigating psychology 2 – from cognitive to biological, in: Briggs, G. and Davies, S. (eds.) Is seeing believing? Visual perception and attention for dynamic scenes. Plymouth: The Open University, pp. 111–150.

Capdevila, R., Dixon, J., and Briggs, G. (2015b). Investigating psychology 2 – from social to cognitive, in: Lazard, S. (eds.) How do we make sense of the world? Categorization and attribution. Plymouth: The Open University, pp. 348351.

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PsychologyWriting. "Psychology of Making Good Decisions." April 10, 2023.