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Bad Decisions

posted Jan 1, 2010, 6:40 PM by Allen Gattis
What is a 'bad' decision? It's not necessarily a decision that's wrong. Everyone is wrong from time to time, and a bad decsion can be right or wrong. A bad decision has the distinction of being a decision made for the wrong reasons.

There are three main human tendencies that lead us to make bad decisions. I call these "The Enablers of Bad Decision Making."

  • Satisfaction of Search
  • Decision Momentum
  • Commission Bias
Satisfaction of search
The tendency to stop considering alternatives once you arrive at a plausible solution.

Decision Momentum
The unconscious suppression of evidence that conflicts with an existing theory. Once a decision is made, it is passed on to other people with ever-increasing conviction and contradictory evidence is brushed aside

Commission Bias
The preference for an action for it's own sake. Often we try to make an undefined condition conform to a well-defined prototype, in order to offer a familiar solution.

Usually, we don't even know it until it's too late.

Adapted from How Doctors Think - Jerome Groopman - Books - Review - New York Times