What is your decision-making style?
Do you actually have one…or many?
In much of the literature on decision making approaches, there is a tendency to allocate people to one of a number of different categories or styles.
For example, you might be classified as (Scott & Bruce, 1995):
- Rational – You tend to make decisions in a logical and systematic way
- Avoidant – You tend to avoid making important decisions until the pressure is on
- Dependent – You tend to make important decisions by consulting other people
- Intuitive – You tend to make decisions by relying on your instinct
- Spontaneous – You tend to make impulsive decisions
This seems to me to be overly simplistic and that is also the conclusion of a paper by a group of Israeli psychologists.
Instead of one decision-making style, determined by a dominant characteristic, Gati et al. (2010) propose a more complex decision-making profile composed of 11 different dimensions.
- Information gathering (comprehensive vs. minimal) – the degree to which individuals are meticulous and thorough in collecting and organizing information.
- Information processing (analytic vs. holistic) – the degree to which the individual analyses information into its components, and processes the information according to these components.
- Locus of control (internal vs. external) – the degree to which individuals believe they control their occupational future and feel that their decisions affect their career opportunities, or that these are mainly determined by external forces such as fate or luck.
- Effort invested in the process (much vs. little) – the amount of time and mental effort individuals invest in the decision-making process.
- Procrastination (high vs. low) – the degree to which the individual avoids or delays beginning or advancing through the career decision-making process.
- Speed of making the final decision (fast vs. slow) – the length of time individuals need to make their final decision once the information has been collected and compiled.
- Consulting with others (frequent vs. rare) – the extent to which individuals consult with others during the different stages of the decision process.
- Dependence on others (high vs. low) – the degree to which individuals accept full responsibility for making their decision (even if they consult with others), as opposed to expecting others to make the decision for them.
- Desire to please others (high vs. low) – the degree to which the individual attempts to satisfy the expectations of significant others (e.g., parents, partner, friends).
- Aspiration for an ideal occupation (high vs. low) – the extent to which individuals strive for an occupation that is perfect for them.
- Willingness to compromise – the extent to which individuals are willing to be flexible about their preferred alternative when they encounter difficulties in actualizing it.
This seems to me to be a much more useful way of looking at decision making tendencies. I can imagine using this framework in helping clients to think about their own approach to making choices.
The authors make an important point in relation to this model: some of the factors may be demonstrated consistently by an individual across different decisions, whereas others may change depending on the type of decision, the context in which it is made and the stage in the choice process.
- How do you think you could use this framework with clients?
- Have they missed anything?
- What decision-making profile do you exhibit?
- Gati, I. et al. (2010) From career decision-making styles to career decision-making profiles: A multidimensional approach. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 76(2), 277-291. DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2009.11.001
- Scott, S. G. & Bruce, R. A. (1995) Decision-making style: The development and assessment of a new measure. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 55(5), 818-831. doi: 10.1177/0013164495055005017
Related post: The decisive moment