Tuesday, April 14, 2009

learning in decision-making

People sometimes stumble upon the truth, but usually they pick themselves up and hurry about their business....Winston Churchill

For the last few days, I've had the pleasure of revisiting the work of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, research I first experienced as a graduate student studying with Hillel Einhorn. Thus, the reason I include the Churchill quote. Check out the article I wrote on this topic for smartpeople magazine

How and whether we make sense of information when presented is a function of the length and care exercised when we engage BOTH of our thought systems--the intuitive and the reasoning portions. The rapidity in which we reach a conclusion or recognize a person, situation indicates the likely absence of a full evaluation of all the information received as input. In contrast if we tried to more fully process the multitudes of input we acquire in any given moment, we would be momentarily paralyzed, incapable of making any decision irrespective of its magnitude. Plenty of our natural responses are involuntary..for example, walking while talking. One explanation of autism, expresses the inability of the brain to invoke the automatic response resulting in the inability of the brain to filter or suppress inputs based on their familiarity.

But when the input is a little less familiar, or we seek to engage our internal reasoning additional time and reflection is needed. It is also why feedback and engagement from more than one sensory input helps us further distill and draw deeper value from the information presented. Multi-sensory engagement, not mere passive input further aid and thus enhance our decision making ability.

Our rapid fire automatic response capabilities are often quite useful. Then again, the first answer, judgment or expectation that our brain provides may cut short the full contextual evaluation that may serve us better. By taking a few more moments, days or even weeks to evaluate the fit or association of the information we've obtained relative to the the context in which we encountered it may lead to a more robust "rational" decision.

Gut instincts represent an ability to think and process information quickly. In the case in which they reflect responses learned over time , they enable an autopilot function. In a crisis or emergency, the automatic, rather than the delayed, engaged information process is critical. For example, the nurse who recognizes heart attack symptoms quickly, the firefighter who can unconsciously react to subtle cues not overtly apparent to the casual observer or the inexperienced firefighter.

Acquiring experience is inevitable, but learning from the experience is not.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your thoughts