Patterns of Irrational Decision Making
Irrational decision-making affects individuals from time to time. Most often, individuals are unaware of the irrational decisions they make. As such, most of the irrational decisions stem from individuals’ subconscious thoughts, which then become actions. Irrational decisions pertain those decisions that individuals make that either harm the well-being of others or themselves. According to Paul & Elder (2013), there are four common patterns of irrational decision-making. These include: (i) when individuals behave in ways that undermine other people’s welfare, (ii) behaving in ways that undermine our own welfare, (iii) withdrawing from activities that may improve an individual’s long-term welfare, (iv) deciding to involve with individuals who influence one to act in a way that undermines their own welfare or that of others.
An example of an occasion where I acted in accordance to one or more of the patterns of irrational decision-making is during my friend’s birthday party. After spending time indoors the whole day, we decided to visit the nearby mall and take some refreshments. After arriving at the mall, I had carefully set the budget I was going to spend. However, after some time, I became spendthrift and decided to treat my friends with gifts. My friends also cajoled me into spending more than I had planned, insisting that there was no reason to worry much about tomorrow. This resulted in a huge bill that had clearly put a dent on my savings that I had planned to use as pocket money for school. I had to significantly cut down my budget during the rest of the school term as I had little left to barely sustain me. Clearly, I decided to act in a way that undermined my welfare, which is a pattern of irrational decision-making. My friends had also encouraged me to spend more than I planned, which is also a pattern of irrational decision-making.
Egocentrism results from the fact that on most occasions, human beings do not take into consideration the point of view of other people. Humans may also disregard the needs of others and thus end up acting in negative ways. Humans may not be aware of their own egocentric thoughts, or the influence of egocentric thinking in the way they make decisions or interpret information (Chartrand et al., 2011). Most individuals feel that their thinking or actions are always objective – which is an unrealistic but confident believe that they are always right or objective in what they do. Egocentrism also involves having great confidence in one’s intuitive thoughts or feelings, regardless of whether these may be inaccurate (Chartrand et al., 2011). Another characteristic of egocentrism is the application of self-centered psychological standards as the basis for one’s judgment. By acting in a spendthrift manner, I clearly applied egocentric thinking through disregarding my parents’ advice on sound financial decision-making. My parents insist that I often spend money extravagantly and for no good reason. However, I always feel that my reasons for spending are all justified.
Sociocentrism was also involved in my thought process. Sociocentrism involves an unreasonable conformity to group rules or restrictions (Chartrand et al., 2011). Every individual is a member to a particular social group. All social groups have unspoken rules that define or guide the behavior of members. Majority of individuals follow the group norms or beliefs without question, failure to which the group may impose punishments. For instance, the group may refuse to associate with an “errant” member leading to emotional distress. Every member of the group must act in a specific manner in order to receive full acceptance as part of the group (Chartrand et al., 2011) (Chartrand et al., 2011). Conformity to group behavior occurs to everyone, irrespective of their social status or role in the society. Since my friends and I belong to a social clique, we often spend on each other, including buying gifts for each other. During this occasion, I was the only one who carried enough money, meaning I did not have any valid reason not to spend on gifts. I did what my friends expected of me, and what I would expect from any of them.
The pathological tendencies involved were egocentric absurdity and egocentric blindness. Egocentric absurdity refers to an individual’s tendency to make the wrong decisions and fail to notice how inconsistent with reason or logic they are. On the other hand, egocentric blindness is the failure to notice the things that may change the irrational beliefs that one holds (Elder et al., 2007). Keys to sound decision-making could have enabled me make a rational decision. The first key involves recognizing that one faces a challenging situation for which there is a decision to make. The second key involves evaluating the various alternatives. In my case, I would have looked at various ways in which I could have spent a lesser amount. The next step is to analyze the various alternatives in a logical manner. The last key is to choose the best alternative. For instance, I could tell my friends that there is need to mind what we spend since the money I had was meant for other purposes.
Chartrand, J., Emery, S., Hall, R. et al., (2011). Critical thinking strategies for success (collection). New Jersey, NJ: FT Press.
Elder, L., Paul, R., & Foundation for Critical Thinking. (2007). The miniature guide to taking charge of the human mind: Thinking, feeling, wanting. Dillon Beach, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking.
Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2013). Critical thinking: Tools for taking charge of your professional and personal life. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.