How we make decisions

As human being’s we are often defined by our skeletons, our tissues and our organs. As people we are more often defined by the decisions we make or don’t make. When we are making judgments and decisions about the world around us, we like to think that we are objective, logical, and capable of taking in and evaluating all the information that is available to us.

The reality is, however, that our judgments and decisions are often riddled with errors and influenced by a wide variety of biases. The human brain is both remarkable and powerful, but certainly subject to limitations. Scientists have shown that the human brain can take in around 2.300,000 ‘bits’ of information at any one time. However, since our attention is a limited resource and cannot possibly take in every possible detail of an event we filter the information down to a workable 3-5 thoughts simultaneously. We filter this information based on our experiences to date and the actions we are currently taking or wish to take.

In order to cope with the tremendous amount of information we encounter and to speed up the decision-making process, the brain relies on some mental strategies to simplify things so we don’t have to spend endless amounts of time analysing every detail. One of these strategies is called heuristics.