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Individual Decision-making Models

People perform a lot of activities daily. Inherent in these activities are decisions made in on the basis of prior experiences and many times at whim. Students on human behavior can ascertain that one of the factors that influence these everyday choices depend largely on the individual’s particular developmental stage. For instance, in Piaget’s formal operations stage, an individual may consider many possibilities in life, may be able to successfully handle crisis at most times, as well as analyze existing assumptions (Papalia et al. , 2002).

To add to this, research done by Flavell, mentions the accumulation of experiences which may accordingly influence the decision making processes (Papalia et al. , 2002, p. 427, in Flavell et al. , 1999). However, for adolescents, decision-making capacity is more critical due to some important considerations. This is accentuated based on recent brain researches. Adolescents make rash decisions due to the interference of emotions in their reasoning process. Neurobiological experts suggest that the adolescents’ immature brain development may actually let emotions obstruct or “override reason” (Papalia et al.

, 2002, p. 428, in Baird. 1999). The purpose of this study is to delve deeper into the dynamics of individual decision-making; what paradigms or models are utilized by individuals as they encounter crises or simple everyday dilemmas in life? Approaching this and other questions, studies made by behavior specialists will be examined and discussed and where conclusions will be arrived based on the findings of these studies. A. Definition of variables Decision making is defined as the “cognitive process leading to the selection of a course of action among alternatives” (www.

wikipedia. org). In this process, the individual will always make a choice, whether that choice results to a non-choice, he/she has already decided on a final option. That ultimate alternative can either be an act or in the manner of a belief or judgment (www. wikipedia. org). These decisions may be categorized as rational or irrational. It may be based on explicit or tacit assumptions. Random House Webster’s Dictionary defines the word explicit as something “fully and clearly expressed. ” (4th Ed.

, 2001) or as another dictionary puts it across as: “expressing all details in a clear and obvious way, leaving no doubt as to the intended meaning (Microsoft Encarta Dictionary, 2005). Conversely, the word tacit denotes an “implied but not expressed: understood or implied without being stated openly” (Microsoft Encarta Dictionary 2005). When people formulate decisions, other people may be cognizant or hear these decisions verbalized, but there may be times that these decisions may be arrived without others actually hearing an audible expression.

Decision making is deemed a psychological construct; meaning, people never see an “actual decision”. This implies that decision is said to have occurred based on the observable behavior. Clearly, a commitment is made to carry such decision to action. This is significantly implied in the person’s apparent behavior (http//:en. wikipedia. org).. B. Theoretical Implications/Assumptions Adults think differently, and consequently, behave differently. At this stage and onwards, typical adult conversations are not same with children or that with adolescents.

Adults conceive of events in a different set of thinking and it is this pattern of thinking that decisions are being made (Papalia et al. , 2002). Developmental theories explain this dimension of cognitive thinking in adults in a number of ways. There are varieties of approaches as to understanding and predicting behavior and they include a stage (Sinnott and Schaie, in Papalia et al. , 2002,p. 501) approach, an intelligence typology model (Steinberg, in Papalia et al. , 2002, p. 501), and another is the role of emotionality in intelligent behavior (Salovey and Mayer, in Papalia et al. , 2002, p. 506).

Though broadly taken as understanding perspectives of adult cognition, these models are noteworthy concepts in the understanding the dynamics of individual decision making. Behaviorist Isabel Myer Briggs Myers (1962) says that a person’s manner of making and reaching decisions is dependent on that person’s cognitive mode. In her four bi-polar dimensions, patterned on Carl Jung’s ideas, this psychologist developed a psychological test to assess an individual’s cognitive style. According to Briggs-Myers, a person’s approach in making decisions will be interpreted on the results on any of the four dimensions in her study.

These four bi-polar components are “thinking and feeling, extroversion and introversion, judgment and perception, and sensing and intuition. ” If for instance, one who scores close to the thinking-extroversion-sensing-judgment pole will exhibit a logical, analytical, objective, critical and empirical manner of decision making process (http//:en. wikipedia. org). C. Survey of Significant Literature Acquisti et al. , made a study on “Privacy and rationality in individual decision making” and critiqued on the inadequacy of the information that individuals possess to be able to make a rational decision.

According to them, “traditional theory suggests consumers should be able to manage their privacy. Yet empirical and theoretical research suggests that consumers often lack enough information to make privacy-sensitive decisions and even with sufficient information, are likely to trade off long-term privacy for short-term benefits” (Acquisti et al. , 2005, p24-25). Although this study pertains primarily on a privacy issue, the information lends a glaring reality that individuals do make decisions based on what they think benefits them the most.

In another study on Cognitive Neuroscience of Decision making, it was found out that the ACC or the anterior cingulated cortex and the orbitofrontal cortex of the brain are the areas which are responsible for individual’s decision making process. It was found out in a neuroimaging research that they have discovered the distinctives in the areas when the person under study. There was a difference in the neural networks when the person was either making a decision under somebody’s directives or when he/she makes that decision on the basis of his own will (wwwwikipedia. org). Kennerly et al (2006, in http//:en.

wikipedia. org), conducted research related to the ACC discovery; this was a study was made on Macaques which shows that the ACC, as implied in the study, has much to do with how a person evaluates “past reinforcement information” and also how he/she will conduct in the future. These studies reveal what physiological aspects of an individual are involved with decision-making. It is important to note, further, that in the first ACC study, inference can be made that individuals may vary in their final choice depending on how they perceive instructions or directions or on judgments made from information.

This is also reinforced in the second ACC study, in effect, that people do make decisions when perhaps, they may have or have not benefited from similar situations in the past. From a journal in applied psychology, an experiment on whether social factors have influence on decision-making. Although originally, the intent of the study was to confirm a major difference between individual and group decision-making based on the influence of social factors, it is significant to glean from this study, how individuals do make decisions when social factors come into play.

The work, “Individual versus Group Decision making: Social Comparison in Goals for Individual Task Performance (1991), Hinsz compared the “decisions of individuals and groups based on a problem-solving or an error-checking task. ” From the study, “it is proposed that social factors such as evaluation apprehension and social comparison may be responsible for the differences observed in group and individual group decisions, and that social factors may have an important role in a variety of goal-setting situations (Hinsz, 1991 in http://www. blackwell-synergy. com/). II. Methods A. Subjects

This study made use of existing literature as its basis of drawing inferences on the decision making process that individuals make. The distinguishing feature in this paper is that the decisions made are based on researches done on individual persons rather than group decisions. Different studies imply subjects from these different researches. Some of the hypothesis, though, was drawn from an animal study (refer to aforementioned Macaque literature). The studies drew as subjects usually making economic decisions. One came from an experiment done to assess the influence of social factors on this exercise.

B. Materials/Apparatus Collated materials from journals accessed in the internet were used in this study. C. Procedures It is understood that since the problem under study concerns existing materials that establish the models used by individuals in decision-making, the researcher has undergone the process of collecting these materials via the net and the use of available books or references in the library. Summaries of researches that establish the direction of this study were made and discussed appropriately. Conclusions and recommendations were drawn based on the assumptions about the problem concerned.

III. Results/Findings/Discussion Many things come into play whenever the discussion on the decision making process comes into fore. Individuals derive their decisions at times considering the risks involved. It is important that knowledge or thorough information be acquired surrounding a matter concerned. When for example, a person considers an illness that he/she is facing, it is not enough to be able to hear a relative who had similar experiences; not even an opinion of one doctor is adequate especially if there are high stakes involved.

Diagnoses of two other doctors or experts may help form a substantial background for a decision or series of decisions to make. In the studies enumerated, the results reveal that individuals come to a point in making their ultimate choice or choices. This final choice may be arrived at based on their past experiences (Kennerly et al. , 2006, http//:en. wikipedia. org), and how these had benefited them or not. To a certain extent this reflects what philosophers’ term as the Utilitarian model. The utilitarian model posits that in decision making, it is about determining which of these choices, is the best one.

It permits a person to assess one alternative over other alternatives. Utilitarianism believes that the past experience is beneficial only so long as it influences the future. This utilitarian model oftentimes comes into conflict with one’s moral definition of what is right. If a person has a firm belief on absolute truth, whenever, he or she struggles with a decision to make, between its “usability” or beneficial effects and righteous standard, this will create a conflict as to which ultimate direction this person should take (Baron, in http://www. sas. upenn. edu/~baron/mellers. html).

If no moral issue is at stake, a much easier course can be taken instead. Wikipedia sources point to a mathematical model in this aspect of individual conduct. This covers, firstly, the notion that individuals who form their decisions are given all the informations on every possible alternative there is for the matter they are to take upon themselves as well as all its likely consequences. Secondly, it is assumed that the one who makes a decision is aware of the details of the ramifications of the variety of alternatives, no matter how small the differences are between the consequences.

Thirdly, there is an assumption that the individual is rational in choosing his options. With that, he or she is cognizant of whether the consequence of a particular choice will greatly be valuable to him/her or not ((2006, in http//:en. wikipedia. org). One paradigm that best explains how people make these choices is from the hedonistic viewpoint: the concept that individuals seek after which will make them happy and avoid pain. While another approach some individuals take is the subjective probability.

This is not using an intellectual assessment of alternatives involved or “mathematical equations” but on the person’s approximation of the probability of success (2006, in http//:en. wikipedia. org). In a paper by Simon and associates, it presented the immense importance of the process of making decisions. The author stated that decisions are being made on a national scale with individuals sitting on several influential chairs. And despite the fact that more often than not, these decisions are made on a collective level, undoubtedly still, those involved are individual persons.

Many decisions affect an entire generation and even wars are fought and stopped on a series of single individual choices. On a personal level, whom to marry, choosing a business partner, changing religions and having children are major options that have lasting consequences. The Simon paper said that subjective expected utility or SEU, is a popular theory which is essentially a highly developed mathematical pattern that is fundamentally used in many of modern “economics, even theoretical statistics and operations research.

” Objectively speaking, SEU has something to do with plain decision-making and not about any of the other concerns such as how the problem is structured, goal setting or coming up with novel choices (Simon, Research Briefings 1986: Report of the Research Briefing Panel on Decision Making and Problem Solving © 1986 by the National Academy of Sciences. Published by National Academy Press, Washington, DC). . On a very simplified manner, however, in subjective utility, a person’s choices will be determined by his/her subjective understanding and valuing of him/herself rather than on an impartial standard. III.

Conclusion and recommendation As mentioned earlier, there are times an individual reaches a point of ambivalence where, if possible, no decision will be made. The probably reasons might because the alternatives could be very painful to the individual decision maker. Perhaps, it could be due to the reason that the options are all unattractive. Or putting it on hold, one can better make the best choice later on. However this may appear to the decision maker, common sense and experience dictate that during such times of ambivalence, making a decision will still be beneficial, whether by random choice, in the long term.

Scholars label this as path dependency (http//:en. wikipedia). Part of the maturation process involves struggling with making life and death decisions, critical morally ethical decisions, and quick crucial and essential choices. No matter the status in life, at this level, all is equal. All of us make day to day decisions and we put to risk many things, including relationships, jobs, reputations and most importantly our lives. IV.


1. Acquisti. ,A. , J. Grossklags. , 2005. pp24-30.Privacy and rationality in Individual Decision making. IEEE Security and Privacy. 2. Baron, J. (1985). Heuristics and Biases in Equity Judgments: a Utilitarian Approach. New York: Cambridge University Press. Accessed through www. sas. upenn. edu. 3. Encarta Dictionary. Microsoft® Encarta® Premium Suite 2005. © 1993-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. 4. Hinsz, 1991. Journal in Applied Psychology Vol. 21 Issue 12 page 987, in http://www. blackwell-synergy. com/. 5. Papalia, Diane E. , S. W. Olds. , RD Feldman.

, 2002. Human Development. 8th Ed. , International Edition. McGraw-Hill. 6. Research Briefings 1986: Report of the Research Briefing Panel on Decision Making and Problem Solving © 1986 by the National Academy of Sciences. Published by National Academy Press, Washington, DC. 7. Simon, Research Briefings 1986: Report of the Research Briefing Panel on Decision Making and Problem Solving © 1986 by the National Academy of Sciences. Published by National Academy Press, Washington, DC). 8. http//:en. wikipedia. org

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