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3 Ways to Improve Your Decision Making
Walter Frick
JANUARY 22, 2018

Rule #1: Be less certain.
Nobel-prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has said that overconfidence is the bias he’d eliminate first if he had a magic wand. It’s ubiquitous, particularly among men, the wealthy, and even experts. Overconfidence is not a universal phenomenon — it depends on factors including culture and personality — but the chances are good that you’re more confident about each step of the decision-making process than you ought to be.

So, the first rule of decision making is to just be less certain — about everything. Think choice A will lead to outcome B? It’s probably a bit less likely than you believe. Think outcome B is preferable to outcome C? You’re probably too confident about that as well.

Once you accept that you’re overconfident, you can revisit the logic of your decision. What else would you think about if you were less sure that A would cause B, or that B is preferable to C? Have you prepared for a dramatically different outcome than your expected one?

Rule #2: Ask “How often does that typically happen?”
....think about how long similar projects typically take....In general, research suggests, the best starting point for predictions ­— a key input into decision making — is to ask “How often does that typically happen?”
This rule, known as the base rate, comes up a lot in the research on prediction, but it might be helpful for the judgment side of decision making, too. If you think outcome B is preferable to outcome C, you might ask: How often has that historically been the case? ...The idea with both prediction and judgment is to get away from the “inside view,” where the specifics of the decision overwhelm your analysis. Instead, you want to take the “outside view,” where you start with similar cases before considering the specifics of your individual case.

Rule #3: Think probabilistically — and learn some basic probability.
The first two rules can be implemented right away; this one takes a bit of time. But it’s worth it. Research has shown that even relatively basic training in probability makes people better forecasters and helps them avoid certain cognitive biases....Improving your ability to think probabilistically will help you with the first two rules. You’ll be able to better express your uncertainty and to numerically think about “How often does this usually happen?” The three rules together are more powerful than any of them alone.

Even though these rules are all things you can start using relatively quickly, mastering them takes practice. In fact, after you use them for a little while, you may become overconfident about your ability to make decisions. Great decision makers don’t follow these rules only when facing a particularly difficult choice; they return to them all the time. They recognize that even seemingly easy decisions can be hard — and that they probably know less than they think
decision_making  pretense_of_knowledge  base_rates  probabilities  Daniel_Kahneman  overconfidence  biases  certainty 
january 2018 by jerryking
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