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Psychological barriers to effective decision making

emotions, drives, preferences and the like
An awareness of such barriers can help improve the decision making process.
The rational model of decision making is the one that many people claim to follow.
In fact this is seldom the case.
This model assumes that people have all the information that is relevant to the situation and that this is completely accurate.
The model assumes that the decision maker has an exhaustive list of alternatives to choose from. Decision making can be a complex process, it all starts with imperfect information or an incomplete list of alternatives.
Sometimes the alternatives are difficult to understand.
Tunnel vision occurs when people have mental blinders, such as individual biases, that restrict the search for an adequate solution to a relatively narrow range of alternatives.
Bounded rationality
This means that people attempt to be rational but this rationality is constrained by their own values and experiences and by unconscious reflexes, skills and habits.
For example, if a person has a history of making decisions in a certain fashion, he will probably continue to follow that same pattern, even when an objective observer might see a need for a new approach.
Satisfying is selecting the first minimally acceptable alternative, even though a more thorough search could uncover better ones.
Previous commitments
People who feel personally responsible for a previously selected bad decision often tend to commit additional resources to that alternative. The most significant implication is that the escalating commitment to a particular decision makes it increasingly difficult to objectively evaluate other alternatives and to change the already initiate course of action.
Implicit Favorites
Many people select a favorite alternative early in the decision-making processes but continue to evaluate additional solutions.
Subsequent alternatives are therefore distorted perceptually, evaluated using decision criteria that emphasize the superiority of the preferred solution. Consider a person who is told to choose a site for a new plant.
He quickly decides that it should be close to a place where he always wanted to live. He may unconsciously take steps to insure this city is a prominent alternative and be biased in his choice.
Lack of creativity
Creativity is the ability to generate ideas that are both innovative and functional.
It is especially important in making non routine decisions. Unfortunately, creativity rarely receives adequate attention within organizations.
The first reason for this neglect is that organizational policies and procedures are usually designed to promote order, consistency, and uniformity, thereby limiting creativity.
Second, managerial work is fast paced and action oriented whereas creativity requires time for preparation, incubation, inspiration.
Finally most people do not understand creativity and therefore overlook rather than advocate or reinforce it.
Groups tend to make riskier decisions. Because no single person shoulders the consequences of a decision made by a group, individuals may feel less accountable and will accept riskier, more marginal solutions.
In addition, groups may ignore individual expertise, opting instead for group consensus.
Strong personality types and high-status group members may dominate the discussion, causing less assertive and lower-status members to go along with them. Cohesive groups may develop groupthink a mode of thinking with a norm of concurrence seeking behavior.
The symptoms of groupthink arise when members of decision making groups are critical of ideas outside the group, prefer to entertain ideas within the groups, and focus too heavily on developing concurrence within the group.
It occurs most frequently in highly cohesive groups, particularly in stressful situations.
Hopefully the reader recognizes that barriers such as the ones described here do exist and do affect the decision-making process.

J.R. Gordon
Management and organizational behavior
D.D.van Fleet
Contemporary Management

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