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Psychology of personal decision making
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Psychology of Personal Decision-Making. Decision Tables. Agenda. Video: Building Green How to Choose: “The decision ladder” Prioritized Lists Screening Fact and Value Tables Decision Tables +/- 1-10 Calculations. The Decision Ladder.

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Psychology of personal decision making

Psychology of Personal Decision-Making

Decision Tables



  • Video: Building Green

  • How to Choose: “The decision ladder”

  • Prioritized Lists

  • Screening

  • Fact and Value Tables

  • Decision Tables

    • +/-

    • 1-10

    • Calculations

The decision ladder

The Decision Ladder

  • Start with simple methods and move to complex methods only as necessary!

The decision ladder1

The Decision Ladder

  • Decision Tree

  • 1-10 Decision Table

  • +/- Decision Table

  • Screening

  • Prioritized List

Prioritized lists

Prioritized Lists

  • Bad decisions:

    • Single alternative

    • No Devil’s advocate (groupthink)

    • Unanimous adoption of bad idea

Prioritized lists1

Prioritized Lists

  • Build a robust list of alternatives!

    • ++ save up for kayaking trip (accept)

    • + go to the coast to hunt for shells (reject)

    • - drive smelly grandma to airport (accept)

    • --bathe grandma (reject)

Ways to prioritize

Ways to Prioritize

  • Intuition vs. Analysis

  • Intuition = simultaneous feelings about alternatives

    • One usually feels best, so we choose

  • Analysis = breaks the problem into sub parts and solves

  • If the decision is important, use analysis!

After analysis is complete

After Analysis is complete…

  • Ask yourself (using intuition):

    • “Does this really make sense?”

    • “Does it seem right?”

  • If no…

    • Analysis is wrong (values, alternatives, weights)

    • Intuition is wrong (denying yourself the truth)

    • Both are wrong

Errors in intuition

Errors in intuition

  • World is flat

  • Highly streamlined shapes best for earth re-entry

  • Odds 2 people will have same birthday in classroom of 30 (= 1 in 30)

  • Galileo and Tower of Pisa

  • Others?

Choosing among alternatives

Choosing among alternatives

  • Either:

    • Choose alternative giving you the most ammo for justifying the choice to others

    • Choose based on good outcomes or consequences

    • Beware of “rule of thumb” justifications

      • They can be contradictory

        • “2 heads better than 1 vs. too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth”

Explain to me

Explain to me?

  • “When the sky looks like its been scratched by a hen, it’s time to reef your topsails then”

If rules of thumb are in conflict

If rules of thumb are in conflict:

  • Consider outcomes or consequences



  • A lot like panning for gold

  • Consider 1 attribute at a time and reject

    • TV purchase : Store first, then warranty, then…

    • Best buy, Target, Staples, Newegg, Amazon

    • Sony, Mitsubishi, Sanyo

Problem with screening

Problem with screening

  • You may have screened something really good out!

  • FIX: Screen the most important value first

    • If doubt about keeping an alternative, keep it!

    • This way mistakes will not be huge

  • TAKEAWAY: Screen when values of very high importance are abound

Very high importance screening example

Very high importance screening example

  • Bleeding, Breathing, Poisoning, Broken Bones

Decision tables

Decision Tables

  • Ensures same values will be compared against multiple alternatives

  • Screened out all linguists but Oxford grads because of stage presence

  • Still are comparing stage presence on each Oxford grad

Dts divide and conquer

DTs: Divide and Conquer!

Decision tables and stakeholders

Decision Tables and Stakeholders

Fact tables assembling beliefs

Fact Tables = Assembling beliefs

Creative Alternative???

Fact tables assembling beliefs1

Fact Tables = Assembling beliefs

Creative Alternative???

Value table conversion preferences

Value Table Conversion = +/- Preferences


Value table conversion preferences1

Value Table Conversion = +/- Preferences


About dominance

About dominance

  • We hope to find it, but caution!

    • May indicate superior alternative

      • Also irrationality/extremes

1 10 value tables rwam

1-10 value tables: RWAM!

  • Rate (1-10, since zeroes confuse people)

    • Go globally, so 1 is at least preferable but may not be in your range

  • Weight

    • Use magic wishes

  • Multiply Down

  • Add Across

1 10 value tables

1 – 10 value tables

How to weight range table

How to Weight (Range Table)

Relative importance

Relative Importance

  • Can help to think about relative:

    • Magnitude

    • Duration

    • Probability

    • Number of people impacted



  • Bumper sticker slogans

  • Written sentences

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