Biases in decision-making

A ton of different biases continues to influence our lives as much as we like to think that we are impartial and open-minded in decision-making. Biases affect our behavior, thinking, and the decisions that we make. Heuristics in decision making is used to mean strategies or rules that are used for appropriate problem-solving. The problem-solving strategy does not necessarily yield the correct solution always but yields a reasonable solution. Heuristics are also described as the shortcuts that allow people to make a quick and efficient judgment about a situation. This paper will cover the three general heuristics and form a decision-making scenario that shows how the heuristics and biases affected the decision.
General Heuristics
Availability Heuristics
Availability heuristics are shortcuts that people take during the process of decision making. It follows people’s tendency to readily use available facts and information and base their beliefs on a certain concept on the same. It judges the probability of an event by how quick examples can formulate in mind. Availability heuristics do not allow individuals to examine other alternatives but leads them to rely solely on the readily available knowledge in their minds. The stated heuristics describe the inferences that people make based on what they can remember about certain events. They give rise to biases, such as those based on vividness.  Availability heuristics are important in that, at times, we do not have the luxury of time or resources to have an in-depth investigation of issues during the process of decision making. The availability heuristics are thus a way of coming to quick conclusions (Bazerman & Moore, 1994).

Confirmation Heuristics
They represent the reliance on bad or good feelings in relation to specific stimuli. They are rooted in people’s tendency to focus on, notice, and give great credit to evidence that confirms their thought or existing belief.  It arises when individuals fail to interpret facts objectively. In an experimental setting, for instance, a decision-maker is more likely to actively put more value on evidence that supports their initial conclusion other than creating room to entertain new conclusions.
Representative Heuristics
The above is a cognitive bias through which individuals categorize situations based on patterns evident from previous beliefs or experiences. The representative heuristics allow us to make decisions by comparing what we already know or to prototypes that we are already familiar with. It is also used to judge the probability of resemblance of events or objects in relation to what we already know (Krawczyk & Rachubik, 2019).
Decision-making Scenario
I had been fascinated a lot about Africa as a continent and wanted to visit the country on so many occasions. I so happened to have a friend in my school that had relocated from the country with the family. We were a bit close and would hang out together a lot of times. On the news and all social media platforms that talked about the continent showed that most countries were the third world or developing. The notion that the media had about Africa was that it was a very poor continent with countries full of war, diseases, and suffering. It was normal for me to conclude that most people who lived in African countries were in misery and were never happy. When somebody talked about Africa, all I could think of was poverty.
Later on, my friend wanted to start a certain business he had seen in my country back in Africa. I had been successful at investing in different businesses, and my friend knew about that. He came to me and pitched his proposal. I did listen throughout, and it was very promising. However, to come up with a decision, bias took the better part of me. I was not sure that the business would succeed with all the things I had seen on media and read about in African countries. African countries were portrayed as poor; hence the picture in my mind was negative. I did not invest in the business, and my friend got some other investors. The business today is a multi-million dollar business based in an African country. The associated bias of vividness in the availability heuristic affected my decision. My judgment of business success in Africa was based on the negative instances and cases that media had created on my mind.
I made a poor decision due to quick judgment. There are, however, ways through which I could have overcome barriers caused by availability bias. The first way to avoid the form of bias is to build a diversely experienced team with different points of view. The above will change the element of bias as people challenge one another’s thinking about a phenomenon. Utilizing the input and perspectives of others in the decision-making process could have eliminated the bias. My friend knew moiré about African countries and how businesses could be successful. However, I did not utilize our friendship to get a clearer perspective of the possibility of business success in an African country. If I had been patient enough and spent time seeking more information about Africa, I could have decided to invest in the business. However, relying on what I knew or heard about African countries cost me a great business opportunity (Abatecola, Caputo & Cristofaro, 2018).
Biases affect the day to day decisions that we make. Heuristics are classified into three general categories: availability, representative, and confirmation or affect. Availability heuristics are based on making decisions based on judgments about the likelihood of events based on experience or how cases come to mind. Representative heuristics is used when judging the probability that objects resemble. Confirmation heuristics affect judgment through having evaluations that value prior reflective judgments without considering other alternative judgments. Bias makes decisions ineffective, and overcoming such bias helps make better decisions.
Bazerman, M. H., & Moore, D. A. (1994). Judgment in managerial decision making (p. 226). New York: Wiley.
Krawczyk, M. W., & Rachubik, J. (2019). The representativeness heuristic and the choice of lottery tickets: A field experiment. Judgment and Decision Making, 14(1), 51-57.
Abatecola, G., Caputo, A., & Cristofaro, M. (2018). Reviewing cognitive distortions in managerial decision making. Journal of Management Development.

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