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An Introduction to Critical Thinking and Creativity: Think More, Think Better by Joe Y. F. Lau

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CHAPTER 22

MAKING RATIONAL DECISIONS

Good decisions are crucial to a successful and fulfilling life. It is true that many decisions can be made quickly without much thought. But if we are not careful, hasty decisions about career, relationship, or investment can ruin our life.

Many people make decisions based on gut feelings. “I knew I wanted to marry her the moment we met.” The advantage of intuitive decisions is that they are quick, and we might feel more confident because the decision aligns with our feelings. But sometimes our feelings are mixed and inconsistent, and affected by biases and irrelevant factors. For important decisions, we need a better system. This is not to say we should ignore our emotions. It would be unwise (and sad) to marry someone without regard to feelings. But emotions and gut feelings should not be the only basis for making important decisions.

So what makes a good decision? Some people think a decision must have been well made if it has a good outcome. This is dangerous because a bad decision can have a happy ending by accident, but you cannot count on being lucky all the time. Instead, we should focus on the reliability of the decision process itself. This is the thinking process that produces the decision. A reliable thinking process does not guarantee that every decision will have a good outcome. What it does is to make good outcomes more likely, which means fewer costly mistakes.

22.1 A GOOD DECISION PROCESS

The basic outline of a good decision ...

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