Section 3: Decision-making
Biases in decision-making
Human judgement is notoriously fallible. Different psychological experiments have shown the extent to which people's judgements are consistently biased and psychologists have named some of the more common biases - select each one below for more details:
- Availability bias.
This refers to the tendency to assume events are more frequent if they come to mind easily. Because recent, familiar and vivid events come to mind more readily, we incline to overestimate their frequency. Thus we overestimate the likelihood of accidents from dramatic plane crashes and underestimate the likelihood of undramatic accidents in the home.
- Confirmation bias.
We tend to stick with our initial judgements, noticing confirming evidence and dismissing information that does not fit our beliefs. When each political party accuses the television stations of political bias, it may be that they have simply noticed the items in the broadcasts that were against their positions and paid less attention to the items that supported them. We tend to be overconfident about our own opinions and actions, believing ourselves to be correct much more often than is justified; for example, that lung cancer is more likely to affect others than ourselves. This can lead to us making dangerous decisions.
- Hindsight bias.
Believing that we were more certain about judgements initially than we in fact were. This leads to further overconfidence in our own judgements.
In reality, of course, there are many other factors that may affect decision-making - including issues involving ethical dilemmas. An individual's response to these may also be affected by a number of differest factors, such as:
- self-serving bias - the tendency to take credit for success and blame failure on external factors
- cognitive conservatism - seeking to maintain already established views of oneself by seeking information consistent with beliefs already held
- impression management - employing self-presentation tactics to attempt to influence how one appears to others
- ego strength - strength of conviction and self-regulation
- field dependency - the extent of reliance on external social referents as guides to behaviour
- focus of control - level of perceived control over events
- fear of self-destruction - fear of the disintegration of one's self-concept
- moral ethos or climate in an organisation - the extent to which immoral behaviour is condoned
- unwillingness to admit to one's mistake.