Decision Making: Cognitive Models and Explanations

Decision Making: Cognitive Models and Explanations

Decision Making: Cognitive Models and Explanations

Decision Making: Cognitive Models and Explanations

Synopsis

What are the actual processes used by humans when they make decisions in their everyday lives or in business situations? The contributors use cognitive psychological techniques to break down these processes and set them in their social context.

Excerpt

This book comprises a set of chapters which have been especially written for this volume and which offer a description and a critical evaluation of important research on the psychology of decision making. The chapters examine the nature of the psychological processes underlying decision making and the problems that people face in their everyday decisions. The authors’ approach is concerned with explaining how decisions are made in terms of motives, cognitive processes and mental representations. They draw on the insights of cognitive psychology to analyse the decision into more elementary processes. As such, this is a descriptive approach that can be contrasted with the normative and mathematical theories that have dominated much psychological and economic thinking in the study of decision making. The emphasis is on the analysis of what individuals actually do rather than on comparisons with idealised optimal or rational decision makers. The decision process is considered to be one that is extended in time: it involves a series of information search, judgement and evaluation processes which are followed by further post-decision processes that serve to help people to adjust to the implications of their decisions and to understand their own goals and values. It is recognised that decisions are made within a social context and need to be justified to oneself and to others. In a similar vein the question of helping people to improve their decisions is approached from considerations of how they actually make them, rather than from a narrow focus on discrepancies between actual and idealised decisions.

The chapters cover and summarise important decision research up to 1996. The intention is that the volume should serve as a source book for those who want to update their knowledge about research within the descriptive decision making approach. In addition, the book presents some of the most recent results of the authors’ own decision making research.

Part I consists of two chapters. The first, by Crozier and Ranyard, provides an introduction to the volume by identifying the themes and issues which characterise contemporary research on decision making from a cognitive perspective. It traces the origins and development of this

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