Decision Strategies: the process of making a selective intellectual judgment when presented with several complex alternatives consisting of several variables, and usually defining a course of action or an idea. (MeSH)

Strategies used when evaluating options. (Hockenbury, 267) In real life, we constantly make decisions with incomplete information. But we also seem to have the tendency to feel certain about these choices. The bottom line is ‘certainty’ is biologically impossible. (However), modern science incorporates the language and tools of “probability” and “statistics,” which makes uncertainty more manageable. (CampbellVA, 392)


Additive Model: systematically evaluating the important features of each alternative. For example, generating a list of the factors that are most important to you. Then, rating each alternative on each factor using an arbitrary scale. (Hockenbury, 268)

Divergent Thinking Model: (strategy in which) many possible solutions are generated in an attempt to create many possible alternatives. This type of thinking may contribute to creativity. (Bamford, 10/18/10)

Elimination by Aspects Model: evaluation of all the alternatives one characteristic at a time, typically starting with the feature you consider most important. If a particular alternative fails, you scratch it off your list. As the range of possible choices is narrowed down, you continue to compare the remaining alternatives, one feature at a time, until just one alternative is left. (Hockenbury, 268)

Force Field Analysis: used by psychologists and business advisors as a tool for helping people understand and achieve change. Based on the idea that issues are held in balance by the interaction of two opposing sets of forces - “driving forces” and “restraining forces.” People wishing to make a change in their lives are encouraged to prepare a "force field diagram." (Fisher, 136)

Driving Forces: those seeking to promote change. (Fisher, 136)

Force Field Diagram: includes two columns, one containing the driving forces and one containing the restraining forces, drawn as arrows pointing in opposite directions whose lengths represent the magnitude of the force. A quick look at the diagram reveals where the major perceived issues lie. A closer look can sometimes show that the real issue has been left off entirely. In this sense, it is not so much a tool for action as an aid to insight. (Fisher, 137)

Restraining Forces: those seeking to prevent change. (Fisher, 136)

Heuristics: problem solving strategies that involve following a general rule of thumb to reduce the number of possible solutions. (Hockenbury, 265) A simple rule or set of rules for making good decisions from limited information or in a limited time span. (Fisher, 74) Rule of thumb problem solving techniques. When the problem is encountered, the ‘rule of thumb’ is applied. This approach requires no research into the problem and very little cognitive effort. (Bamford, 9/26/10)

Availability Heuristic: a strategy in which the likelihood of an event is estimated on the basis of how readily available other instances of the event are in memory. When instances of an event are easily recalled, we tend to consider the event as being more likely to occur. (Hockenbury, 269) The more easily an event can be brought to mind, the more likely one is to overestimate its incidence. Events that are reported on frequently tend to be overestimated. For example, we tend to overestimate the likelihood of murder, terrorists attacks, and lightning strikes. We tend to underestimate the likelihood of heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and breast cancer. (Bamford, 10/18/10)

Imitate the Majority: take the course of action that the majority of your peer group is taking. (Fisher, 233)

Consensus: general agreement or collective opinion; the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned. (MeSH)

Imitate the Successful: follow the example of those who have succeeded. This strategy is likely to succeed only if you have the same qualities that the successful person you are imitating has. (Fisher, 233)

Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is probably correct. (Eagleman, 222)

Representativeness Heuristic: a strategy in which the likelihood of an event is estimated, by comparing how similar it is to the (typical example) of the event. (Hockenbury, 269) For example, (in discerning if Kai is a waitress or a librarian), we might make the assumption that Kai is a librarian because she fits our stereotype of a librarian (quiet, wears glasses, likes to read). (However), there are more waitresses than librarians (by a factor of at least 10:1), so in all likelihood Kai is a waitress. (Bamford, 10/18/10)

Spread Your Bets Evenly: instead of choosing one alternative over another, allocate your resources equally to each. For example, stock market diversification of assets. (Fisher, 232)

Take the Do-Nothing Default: if there is a default option to do nothing, then do nothing (Fisher, 232)

Tit-for-Tat: in a situation where there is a choice between cooperation and noncooperation and the situation is likely to come up in the future, cooperate on the first encounter. In subsequent encounters, do whatever the other party did during the first encounter. If they cooperated, keep cooperating. If they didn’t cooperate, stop cooperating. (Fisher, 233)

Law of Least Effort: asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. Applies to “cognitive” as well as physical exertion. (Kahneman, 35)

Single Feature Model: choice among many alternatives (is simplified by) basing the decision on a single feature. When the decision is a minor one, the single-feature model can be a good decision-making strategy. (Hockenbury, 268)

Ulysses Contract: freely made decisions that bind you in the future. Often arises in the context of medical decision making. (For example), when a person in good health signs an advance medical directive to (terminate life support) in the event of a “coma.” (Eagleman, 121-122)