Overconfident Decision Making

 Know what you want, but don’t be sure. Positive Uncertainty

Getting what you want is the purpose of decision making. It involves using reasonablejudgmentabout what you want and reliable predictionabout how to get it. But remember the famous quote: “Be careful what you wish for.”

Getting what you want or what you wish for always involves a decision with judgement and prediction. For example, “My opinion is that thisoutcome will be the bestfor me (judgment).”“If I decide to do this, I expect thatwill happen” (prediction).  We want our choice of actionto have the most favorable consequence. The problem with judgment and prediction as the key elements of decision making is that humans are not very good at either one. We are overconfident of both our judgment and prediction ability.

The overconfidence bias is awell-established human bias. It is whena person’s subjective confidence in his or her predictions and judgments are greater than the objective reality. The key problem in judgment and prediction is the overconfidence bias (certainty). The key strategy for better judgment and prediction is uncertainty (an open-minded, malleable mindset).

You don’t have to always be right; you just have to not always think you are right. Judgment and prediction with uncertainty is a difficult task for the subjective, overconfident, biased human mind. It seems obvious that the subjective mind creates or elicits one’s judgments and predictions. But we don’t seem to notice.

That should tell us to look inside (our minds) for decision making strategies. Look inside for what is going on outside. Don’t be sure, by asking questions.

Ask what else questions:

  • What else could happen?
  • What else could I do? Etc.

Ask why and how questions:

  • Why do I predict that? Why is that better? Etc.
  • Get feedback from others: How do you predict? How do you see it?
  • Think twice: try doubt and hypothesis making.

To be totally objective is almost always impossible. But to be diligent about subjectivity will be useful. Open-minded judgment and prediction will more likely get you what you want. Remember, the way you see things comes from within. A recommended strategy:

Adopt An Insight Outlook

Roger von Oech in A Kick In The Seat Of The Pants, 1986

This entry was posted in Beliefs. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eugene Unger says:

    If decision making is this difficult, I’m not going to make any any more. Breakfast place, up to you except it must be a new idea. Conflict resolution , is it possible ? Haha I’m confused. See you Tuesday 9:00. G



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