• 28 Aug 2008
  • Working Paper

How Can Decision Making Be Improved?

by Dolly Chugh, Katherine L. Milkman & Max H. Bazerman

Executive Summary — While scholars can describe how people make decisions, and can envision how much better decision-making could be, they still have little understanding of how to help people overcome blind spots and behave optimally. Chugh, Milkman, and Bazerman organize the scattered knowledge that judgment and decision-making scholars have amassed over several decades about how to reduce biased decision-making. Their analysis of the existing literature on improvement strategies is designed to highlight the most promising avenues for future research. Key concepts include:

  • People put great trust in their intuition. The past 50 years of decision-making research challenges that trust.
  • A key task for psychologists is to identify how and in what decision-making situations people should try to move from intuitive, emotional thinking to more deliberative, logical thinking.
  • The more that researchers understand the potentially harmful effects of some biased decision-making, the more important it is to have empirically tested strategies for reaching better decisions.

Author Abstract

The optimal moment to address the question of how to improve human decision making has arrived. Thanks to fifty years of research by judgment and decision making scholars, psychologists have developed a detailed picture of the ways in which human judgment is bounded. This paper argues that the time has come to focus attention on the search for strategies that will improve bounded judgment because decision making errors are costly and are growing more costly, decision makers are receptive, and academic insights are sure to follow from research on improvement. In addition to calling for research on improvement strategies, this paper organizes the existing literature pertaining to improvement strategies, highlighting promising directions for future research.

Paper Information