If you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered why people sometimes struggle with decisions as individuals or in groups. Group dynamics are very interesting to me and individual behavior that seems to be fueled by fear or embracing life/opportunity is equally intriguing. Regrettably, you will see in certain groups that people will move in the direction of fear-based living. That being said, this is a short list of behavior terms that psychologists/scientists use to describe what goes on with people when making decisions. It’s part of the research I have been doing. When you’re having a bad day because someone did something that made no sense or “the group” is being strange, perhaps one of these terms will give you some short term comfort. Humans seem to do the same things over and over again – they just attach different names to it.
Adjustment Heuristic – When people tend to rely on specific information or a value and can focus so heavily on this that they ignore other valuable information. For instance, an individual may be looking at buying an enterprise application and focus so heavily on its initial price that they ignore its performance or return on investment.
Availability Heuristic – People predict the likeliness of an event based on how easily an example comes to mind instead of actual statistical probability. For instance, if a friend of mine buys a specific car and I hear his harrowing story about how the gas line broke, I ignore all other data and his story becomes my representative of the whole rather than a single instance. In short, the buyer ignores data that might point out this particular car as being the safest on the road from a statistical standpoint.
Bounded Awareness – When people fail to see, seek, use or share highly relevant, easily-accessible, and readily-perceivable information during the decision making process.
Bounded Rationality – A behavior model in which human rationality is very much bounded by the situation and by human computational powers. Obviously, every organization will fluctuate in their collective abilities.
Confirmation Bias – People tend to seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms what they already believe and ignore information that would contradict what they believe. As a recent example from 2008, think of the way people gathered information to support a view they already had about a presidential candidate they had already chosen. When looking for information, they tend to search for those things that support their need to be right. Some of the most interesting and intellectual people I have met have the ability to suspend their bias in order to hold their options out in front of themselves. It is a rare trait and highly valuable.
Contrast Clarity – When people can visualize the obvious contrast of their current situation vs. the promise of the decision. This helps crystallize the thinking toward a decision since it helps them visualize what...