Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Functions Of Thinking : Decision-Making
Another function of thinking is decision-making. Many responses require making choices, often without prior experience or sufficient information to guarantee satisfaction. Decision-making strategies provide short-cuts and guidelines in such choices and crises.

1. Heuristics
A heuristic is a general solution strategy, like a rule of thumb, which often - but not always - applies and succeeds. Heuristics can take the form of familiar principles of spelling and grammar, like "i before e except after c" They can also make up more informal personal routines, like "I should brush my teeth before I sleep and when I wake up".

One kind of heuristic is called hill-climbing, in which one reevaluates the situation after taking each step closer to the goal (like looking back to see how far one has come while climbing a hill). An example of hill-climbing is the use of "process of elimination" when answering multiple-choice test items. Rule out each unlikely choice, until only the likely answer remains.

Another heuristic is to create subgoals by breaking a large goal into stages and each stage into objectives, working backwards from the ultimate goal, until one's immediate next step is clear.

Heuristics can help in decision-making by limiting the trial-and-error of undirected effort. They can also help to rationalize one's decision after the fact.

2. Framing
Decisions involve making choices among a set of alternatives. The alternatives may be presented in a biased or persuasive comparison, known as a frame. For example, consider the different impressions conveyed by these two alternatives:
Alternative A : Would you invest all your money in a new business if you had a 50% chance of succeeding brilliantly?
Alternative B : Would you invest all your money in a new business if you had a 50% chance of failing miserably?
The success-frame in A makes it seem more appealing than the failure-framed B, although the probability of success versus failure is the same for both.
Framing is sometimes used to create illusory comparisons, as when a television commerical claims that "no other brand works better". The implication of the frame is that the advertiser's brand works best, but it is just as likely that all brands work equally well (or poorly).

The possibilities of thought training are infinit, its consequences eternal, and yet few thake the pains to direct their thinking into channels that will do them good, but instead leave all to chance. ~ Marden

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