All animals decide among alternatives many times every day. Often survival is determined by the accuracy of decisions. We will consider the root dialectics of decision making: familiar and strange, approach and avoidance, reward and punishment. Researchers have looked closely, discovering that humans decide in the same way that other animals decide and make the same kind of mistakes. Decisions are mostly made unconsciously and quickly. While most behavior is organized in the old brain, the neocortex stores memories, not like photographs, video recordings or digital files, but as abstract features of experiences that can be compared quickly with features extracted from ongoing experience. The decision processes require rapid parallel processing available in the neocortex. Decisions are made in milliseconds and are not represented in consciousness.'
Once a choice is made, humans often add an explanation of how and why decisions were made in the form of a story. Storytelling begins with the objective of supporting the decision, right or wrong. The story advances the false premise that a decision was made after careful consideration and after fairly evaluating all the evidence at hand. The story is “rationalization.”
Weller et al examined decisions about potential The decision processes require rapid parallel processing available in the neocortex. Decisions are made in milliseconds and are not represented in consciousness.
Once a choice is made, humans often add an explanation in humans with lesions to the amygdala, a key brain nucleus for creating emotional responses They observed impaired decision making when subjects considered potential gains, but not when considering potential losses.
Subjects with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex an area responsible for integrating
cognitive and emotional information, showed deficits in both domains. They
argued that adaptive decision making for risks involving potential losses may be
more difficult to disrupt than adaptive decision making for risks involving
Cognitive dissonance appears in both animals and humans when two pieces of information are not congruent. You
like Mary and dislike Jane, but you see them together chatting like old friends.
Inside your brain you have an old program that reduces dissonance by averaging
your evaluations of the two; you become aware that you like Mary less and like
Jane a little more. Dissonance may precede and may follow a decision.
You are ready to invent a story to justify the new evaluation. Tierny described
cognitive dissonance research suggesting that social psychologists have been
trying to understand rationalizing irrational behavior. This self-delusion, the
result of cognitive dissonance, has been demonstrated repeatedly. He stated:
“Psychologists suggested we rationalize in order to impress others, reaffirm our
moral integrity and protect our feeling of self-worth. People deal with cognitive dissonance, the clash of conflicting information, by eliminating some
of the information. When you see others engaging in rationalization, it can look
silly or pathological, as if they have a desperate need to justify themselves or
are cynically telling lies they couldn’t possibly believe themselves. The
compulsion to justify decisions may seem irrational. Once a decision has been
made, second-guessing may just interfere with more important business.