Information and Decision Making
Dr Jonathan Haverkampf
How much information do you need to make a good decision? There never is perfect information so it is about using the information one has and collecting the information one deems necessary. Primarily, one should look for information from two sources, the world inside and the world outside. How one selects the information determines the decision that is ultimately made. The more you know about your basic values, your interests and aspirations, the easier it is to decide as they form very important pieces of information.
Many people never decide because the decision might be ‘wrong’. But it is difficult to imagine how a decision can be wrong if it is grounded in one’s true values. True values are relatively stable beliefs about the world and if your behavior or actions are in line with them, you feel good about yourself.
Often we feel a need to do things that do not really make us feel better. These rules are not ‘true’ values, but merely an attempt at a compromise. They may be a result of past experiences, voices from friends or parents, or our own convictions as a result of these past experiences. It is important to filter out unhelpful guidance, and that is what psychotherapy and counselling are largely for. Humans share much of their value systems, which is part biology and part learning, and shared values is not a bad starting point. But over time you should figure out what is important to you, not least to make better, quicker and more certain decisions.
Information from the world to help you make better decisions can come from many sources. Having an internal compass helps finding better sources. If you want high quality information, you have to look for high quality sources. What is high quality again depends on information, and it is impossible to overstate the importance of having good information if a decision needs to be made.
In the end, to make a good decision you have to put together all this information and use a decision ‘algorithm’ to make the decision. This means you weigh off the information and its sources, and then apply your true values, interests and aspirations.
© Dr Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved.
Psychotherapy & Counselling, Communication, Medicine (Psychiatry); Dublin, Ireland
This article is solely a basis for academic discussion and no medical advice can be given in this article, nor should anything herein be construed as advice. Always consult a professional if you believe you might suffer from a physical or mental health condition.