The Brain Science of Decision Making

I’ve been trying to understand what goes on in decision making processes. Why do smart people make seemingly stupid judgments?

Here’s what I’ve discovered from authors Sydney Finkelstein, Jo Whitehead and Andrew Campbell in Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions and How to Keep It From Happening to You (Harvard Business School Press, 2008).

The answers lie within our brains. The brain uses two processes that enable us to cope with complexities:

  • Pattern recognition
  • Emotional tagging

Both help us make excellent decisions most of the time. But in certain conditions, these processes can mislead us, resulting in poor judgments and bad decisions.