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The Process of Decision-Making

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By Kristin Backert

We’re faced with a myriad of decisions every day, and most people prefer to use the same tactic to accomplish any task they encounter. However, it’s important to be flexible when faced with a new task so you can effectively complete it. According to a recent study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “People often take different approaches to decision-making. They might apply different strategies, consider different elements of the problem or assign value to the options differently.” For example, you might decide to study for your Spanish test by using flashcards while you might decide to study for your World History exam by creating a timeline of important events. When deciding how to tackle an issue, you need to take a variety of factors into consideration before you make a decision. With the Spanish and World History tests, for instance, you have to think about the type of material you need to know. If the Spanish test is focusing solely on new vocabulary words, then making flashcards best enables you to recall the information. If the test had been on past and future tenses, then flashcards might not be the optimal studying tool because they don’t allow you to practice creating sentences and envisaging scenarios when it’s appropriate to use a given tense.

Whether you’re choosing a studying method or trying to figure out the best way to travel somewhere, you use past experience to help inform your decision. If, for example, you made a timeline for your last World History test and passed, then it makes sense to use this strategy again for your next test! If, though, the timeline did not help, then the decision you make for the new test will differ because you have learned from your past decision.

The most important thing to remember about making decisions is that you need to be flexible. Instead of stubbornly claiming that there’s only one right way to accomplish something, you should instead consider a variety of paths you can take and weigh the pros and cons of each one. When you’re more aware of your decision-making process, you can ensure that you choose the right strategy for the task at hand!

Erica MechlinskiThe Process of Decision-Making

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