Controlled and Automatic Decision Making
We dominate this planet today because of our distinctive capacity for good decision making.
—Reid Hastie and Robyn M. Dawes, Rational Choice in an Uncertain World
After graduating from college, I was stationed at Ft. Eustis, Virginia. I would drive home to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, after a long week at work. I made this drive several times, and I remember one year going home for Christmas. I got in the car, and then 270 miles later, I was pulling into my parent’s driveway. I could remember leaving Ft. Eustis and turning into my parent’s driveway, but I couldn’t remember anything else about that drive. Obviously, I made many decisions on autopilot that day.
Have you had any similar experiences?
Think of all the decisions, both large and small, that you make during the course of a regular day. How many of these decisions do you make automatically? How many require more conscious thought processes? Many decisions people make are automatic and require little thought. One may question whether these decisions are rational. Consider the insights you gained reading this week’s resource regarding automatic and controlled thought processes, as well as the four criteria for rational choice. How does rational choice play into both automatic and controlled decision-making processes?
Identify two decisions you have made in the past: one that you made automatically and another for which you used controlled thinking. For each of these decisions, use the four criteria of rational choice to evaluate whether or not you made a rational decision.
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