The GOFER Course in Decision Making
Leon Mann Ros Harmoni Colin Power The Flinders University of South Australia
The activity of decision making involves cognitive processes, such as information search and evaluation, judgment, and problem solving, as well as responses to a set of motivational forces that determine the manner in which decisions are made. Motivational forces that shape decision making activity include such elements as reluctance to recognize that there is an opportunity or threat (and that it is therefore imperative to make a decision); tendencies to show resistance and reactance in the face of unwarranted social pressure to choose a particular alternative ( Brehm & Brehm, 1981); the disruptive and sometimes energizing effects of psychological stress on processing of information relating to choice alternatives (cf. Janis & Mann, 1977); tendencies to use the no-choice or procrastination option ( Corbin, 1980); tendencies to become trapped in commitment to an outworn decision (cf. Kiesler, 1971) and post-decisional tendencies to resolve cognitive dissonance by idealizing chosen alternatives and derogating unchosen ones ( Festinger, 1957). The study of decision making would be incomplete without recognition that these motivational elements form an integral part of decision-making activity.
The approach we take in the GOFER course is founded upon an analysis of cognitive and motivational factors involved in decision making. Thus, the course instructs students in the steps of high quality information processing in decision making--how to clarify goals, how to compare options