Although we would all like to make rational decisions, it’s not unusual for us to fall victim to mistakes of logic and reasoning. Often, we make these mistakes without even realizing it. A few common “decision-making pitfalls” include the following:

Confirmation bias

  • Only looking for information that supports your ideas
  • Ignoring information that doesn’t support your ideas
  • Failing to take all the facts into consideration

Overconfidence

  • Having the false belief that you can predict what will happen in the future
  • Believing that you are good at making decisions, so you don’t need to put much effort into it

Availability bias

  • Basing your decision on a single past experience, something that happened to a friend, or something that you saw in the media rather than a careful analysis of the situation

Entrapment

  • Continuing to pursue a certain course of action because you’ve already devoted money, time, or effort to it – even if it doesn’t make sense to continue
  • Incorrectly believing that you can recover some of your losses by investing even more money, time, or effort

Bandwagon effect

  • Choosing to do (or believe) certain things simply because other people are doing or believing those things

You can avoid these decision-making pitfalls simply by learning about them (Finkelstein, Whitehead, & Campbell, 2008). If you understand why and how these mistakes occur, you’ll be less likely to make them.

 

Finkelstein, S., Whitehead, J., & Campbell, A. (2008). Think again: Why good leaders make bad decisions and how to keep it from happening to you. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.

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