Decisionmaking - Why You Can't Always Get What You Want


Elke Weber and Eric Johnson are experts on decision making and founded the Center for Decision Making at Columbia Business School. Their research deals with how behavioral economics influences our decisions and how goverments and corporations make better policies.

The insight that you can't always get what you want is the more underlying problem that most of the time you don't always know what you want. Also we want too many things, that are mutually exclusive. Those conflicts define difficult decisions. How we solve those conflicts influence our decisions and those decisions also change over time.

One example is if we decide to set the alarm clock at 6 am the evening before. What happens if we snooze is that our thinking diverges from the person the eveninge before who set the alarm with the one who snoozes the alarm at 6am. The idea of getting up early defines our thinking at 11 pm the night before whereas the warm pillow dominates our thinking at 6 am the next morning. Odysseus made a very deliberate decision when he tied himself to his ship to remove tempting choices from the choice menu.

Choice architecture is one solution that can help make better decisions. Based on query theory which studies how people actually make decisions, it is about what option do we consider first? People tend to be reluctant to switching. Choice architecture deals exactly with the factors that determine what choices are to be considered first. Applied to actual policy making choosing deliberately the default option can make a huge difference. Organ donor by default or by choice chances systematically the rate of organ donations. Having the vegetarian optiona as the default leads to75% more vegetarian meal choices. Elke Weber gives also insight on an experience with the Dalai Lama who believes in the power of awareness of information. Even though Elke agrees with having information the design is as important as the content. Hence, the overall questions is how to encourage more change in the world by deliberately defining the design of choices. Define the what should be the default option can already make a huge difference. Choice architecture helps you to make better decisions by** instead of presenting people more data to present the data in a right way.** WIth good choice design we will be able to make better choices. Applied to women in leadership positions the value lies in diversity and as women make different decisions, having more women in policy decision making will improve overall policy making.

Mentioned in this live blog

Johnson portrait web carr%c3%a9
Eric Johnson
Columbia University
Prof. of Business and Marketing
Columbia University
New York
Elke weber web
Elke Weber
The Earth Institute Columbia
Prof. of Business and Psychology
The Earth Institute Columbia
New York

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