Sources of Bad Decision-Making

Several other factors can contribute to poor choices. Just as things can influence decision-making, good vs. bad decisions are often influenced by factors such as experience and expertise.

  • Automatic thinking: People sometimes engage in actions almost on autopilot without giving them much thought, particularly when performing routine tasks. This automatic thinking can save time and cognitive resources but can sometimes lead to poor choices.
  • Cognitive biases: People are prone to systematic cognitive errors that bias how they process and interpret information. Such biases also affect the type of judgments and decisions that they make.
  • Individual differences: Factors such as age and socioeconomic status can also impact the choices people make. Older people may make different choices than younger people for various reasons, and the options open to people often depend on the financial resources available to them.
  • Past experiences: The choices people are often very influenced by the experiences that they have had in the past. In many cases, they might base their choices on things that worked previously.
  • Multitasking: Trying to juggle too much at once can have cognitive costs, making poor decisions more likely.
  • Decision fatigue: The many decisions people make each day can take a toll, creating stress that often leads to decision fatigue. This fatigue can lead people to choose randomly or let others choose when faced


How to Make Better Decisions

While some of the factors that lead to bad decision-making are difficult to eliminate, there are steps that you can take to help make better choices. Some strategies that can be helpful:

  • Prioritize important decisions.
    This can combat decision fatigue and ensure you have the necessary cognitive resources to make the best choices.
  • Eliminate distractions.
    If many different things compete for your attention, you’re less likely to have the time, energy, and attention to focus on the available information and choices.
  • Consider all of the options.
    While it might save time to just focus on the most obvious choice, weighing all the options might help you make a better choice.
  • Take a break and come back later.
    It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when making a complex or important decision. Take a break and give yourself some time so you can come back to it with a fresh eye.
  • Ask for outside input.
    Talking to other people can be a great way to get different perspectives on the situation.