Human Behavior the Reasons we Make Decisions both Good and Bad

In life, there are situations that are within an individual’s control and those that are beyond control. People have to make choices everyday about day to day situations that occur in their lives. The reasons why people make the decisions they make are diverse; some are simple and others are complex. In a given day, the majority of decisions made by an individual will have little to no impact on their lives. Many of the simple decisions people make like what color pants they will wear today or whether or not they want spaghetti for dinner, etc. are often automatic or based on their preference at that given moment. Simple decisions don’t require much thought and some decisions can even be reached without conscious awareness. However, the big important choices we have to make are not so simplistic.

Have you ever heard someone say I will leave it to fate or destiny? A major misconception about this statement is that the individual believes that they are not making a choice about anything. In fact, they have made a choice; a choice not to do anything and wait, but a choice nonetheless. There are many reasons that lead people to not making choices. A big reason for this is what psychologist Carol S. Dweck (Stanford University) called learned helplessness. Simply, learned helplessness is the phenomenon of learning through experience that outcomes are not controllable. These individuals probably had parents that made all their decisions for them leaving them unable to choose anything or they have been second-guessed about every decision they have ever made. These people never learned that they have the right to make any decision about their life they desire so they leave their choices to others and decide not to take any responsibility. Another possibility is that people are afraid of the consequences of their choices so they feel it best to just leave it to others for fear of their choice possibly being wrong.

Other people may not make choices because they simply don’t care one way or another. This reasoning may be influenced by personal preference, as in that all choices available are acceptable and they don’t have a preference among the acceptable choices. Another reason may be a form of personal enjoyment as in that there is a best choice among the given choices but the individual enjoys making others work to find out what that choice is.

Now, why do people make bad decisions? Ignorance is a big reason. Some people just don’t have the knowledge necessary to make the right choice. Intelligent people have the capacity of learning from their mistakes; poor choices lead to better choices which eventually lead to the best choices. Some people lack this capacity and those people tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. Psychologists call these aspects entity theory (failure because of lack of ability) and incremental theory (learning through effort).

I am reminded of a poem by Portia Nelson called There’s a hole in my sidewalk. The poem is about a person who encounters a hole in the sidewalk and continually falls in the hole out of habit until they learn to avoid said hole by walking down another sidewalk. You would think that it wouldn’t take to the end of the poem for the person to realize their fault right? Many people tend to make decisions based on their fears or in attempt to avoid their fears like they don’t exist which leads to them often making decisions in this manner and therefore repeating the same mistakes or “falling into the same hole ” over and over again. Fear tends to always lead to a bad decision and in my opinion; it is the main reason behind most bad decisions. Everyone has fears, that are a part of their life, but it is not a part of life to let your fears dictate every choice you make.

Psychology is a broad field of study and this topic is continually being developed but based on current knowledge, we can determine what causes us to make good and bad decisions. Fear lies at the root of most bad decisions, but once we overcome our fears and realize that we have the power to make better decisions, good choices will come easier. Henceforth, empowerment leads to many good decisions. When people make choices they should always ask themselves two questions: Does this choice fuel my fears? and “Does this choice empower me to make better choices in the future?