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2024 Winter

DECISION MAKING - PSY285/PSY585 Winter 2024

Joshua Hayden
For information about registration please contact our admissions.

Please find the full syllabus here: /files/6204760/Decision_Making_W24_Hayden_SyllabusAAU.pdf

Decision Making Framework for the class:




Here is the course outline:

1. Process and Outcomes of Decisions: Resulting and Hindsight Bias

Jan 8, 3.10

In this lesson we will cover the core assumptions behind this course, the expectations of students and the design of the course. Our particular focus in settling the table for the framework are the four basic steps in a decision process, and what we know about bad decisions. We all have made bad decisions: What do they have in common in terms of their process? What are the major cognitive biases that get in the may of making wise decisions? What does it mean to make a wise decision?

2. What do I want? Goals, Happiness and Decision Making

Jan 9, 3.10

Goals and aspirations influence how we make decisions, and so does the way we understand, or “frame” our decisions in the first place. Yet often these go unclarified both for individuals and for group decision making. This opening question in our framework addresses our motivation to seek happiness and “the good,” and our assumptions about how to attain it, drive our decisions.

3. How do I really feel about this decision? Emotions as a hindrance and guide to good decisions

Jan 10, 3.10

Especially when we make difficult decisions, emotions can have a strong influence on the priorities we set. What can both ancient wisdom and modern research on emotional intelligence teach us about what to do with our emotions in the choices we make? Since our environment, including people, deeply influences our choices we will explore how we respond and appraise our emotional automatic response to different situations. We will also discuss personalities differences in two types of decision makers: maximizers vs. satisficers.

4. What are my Options? Opportunity Costs and Narrow framing

Jan 11, 3.10

The psychological barrier of narrow framing limits and stalls our decision making. Many get stuck in making a “whether or not” type of decision, which creates barriers to better choices. We will cover the practice of considering more than one option as a way to define a decision and shape the “ecosystem” that impacts our choices. We will also discuss the psychology of “opportunity cost” and its relationship with prioritization in the decision-making process. We will also explore why teams make faster decisions by considering more options.

5. By when do I need to make this decision? Creative Problem-solving, Lateral Thinking and Satisficing

Jan 15, 3.10

Creativity can be learned and developed. We will cover a process of thinking and creating new options using a process of lateral thinking. Sometimes the best solutions to problems are not the ones that are immediately available to us, they are the ones we create by ourselves and in collaboration with others. The “by when” question also implies that there are times to go fast when making a decision and times to go slower. We will discuss how we might determine this and how these processes are different.

6. What am I missing? Reality-Testing your assumptions

Jan 16, 3.10

Countering confirmation bias and our own wishful thinking can be challenging, but we can gain leverage over it by getting multiple perspectives and staying open. We will also examine the problems of sunk cost fallacy, herd mentality and other non-conscious processes that get in the way of seeking more information on a decision.

7. How am I listening to others? Giving and Receiving Advice; Social Influences on Decision Making

Jan 17, 3.10

Other people play a role in our decision-making process, for good or ill. If we want to get good feedback or guidance on our decisions from others, we need to the the social science behind how to listen to others. In addition, knowing who to listen to is just as important as what to listen to. Evidence suggests that many times, we get (and give) bad advice about our decisions. What should we do about it? We will look at social influences in decision making and how to approach others with our problems and decisions.

8. How does this decision look longer-term? Get Some Distance: Long-term thinking and Status Quo Bias

Jan 18, 3.10

Another way to attain distance in making decisions is get your thinking out of the immediate situation. We will practice in this lesson the “10/10/10” method of long-term thinking and the evidence on why setting our sights on our long-term goals puts immediate choices into perspective.

9. Group decision making, conflict and leadership

Jan 22, 3.10

There are many ways of making group decisions, yet rarely do teams and groups discuss how they will decide, let alone justify why this process fits the situation well. We will practice several different forms of group decisions and apply some principles of team leadership to case studies. In class, groups will begin their Group decision making case studies and complete a reflection assignment. We will end with some science-based practical steps in creating good habits.

10. Have I anticipated my limitations? Conducting Premortems and Backcasting

Jan 23, 3.10

Based on ours and others’ experience, we can envision the consequences of our decisions. Yet humans have been shown to be notoriously terrible at, and overconfident in, predicting the future. We will discuss how we can become less bad at this part of decision making by considering how our choices would lead to unintended consequences and failures.

11. Have I anticipated my limitations? (pt. 2): Keeping Commitments and Building Habits

Jan 24, 3.10

Good decision makers plan negatively, but also need to have strategies to stay with their goals and new habits they want to develop. Indeed the process of decision making we have been learning includes many new habits you will want to develop. We will discuss behavioral strategies such as commitment devises like temptation bundling, the role of accountability, and action triggers.

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