You make decisions rationally… are you sure?

Our everyday is full of decisions. Croissant or toast at breakfast. Bus, Metro or Bicycle to go to workplace. Fish or meat to lunch. Flowers or a book, to buy a gift. Each time we have a necessity or problem, we need a solution. We want to find the solution, so we make decisions.

Usually, we think that the majority of our decisions are totally rationals. So, each time that we decide:
1) We know all options.
2) We know all the circumstances of each option.
3) We value all the options based on fair variables.
4) Finally, we select the optimal alternative (the most rational).

But, this is not at all true. If we research a bit about decision making, we stumbled with the studies by Herbert Simon, one of the most influential social scientists of the twentieth century (1916–2001). Simon talks about bounded rationality, the idea that when individuals make decisions, their rationality is limited by:
- the information they have,
- the cognitive limitations of their minds,
- the time available to make the decision.

Besides of these limitations, Simon suggests that people use heuristic tactics to make decisions: cognitive processes to help us to make decisions based on our experience and knowledge (not based on our rationality). Taking into account the limitations, and our natural tendency to use heuristics tactics, when we make decisions we don’t search optimal decision but decisions by “satisficing” (which will make us happy enough).

“Satisficing” decision > Optimal decision

If we wouldn’t have the heuristic capacity we can’t make a lot of decisions. Probably we couldn’t think clearly and we wouldn’t know what to do.


Personal conclusion

When we think about our potential customers or about our products, we should think how they make decisions…finally, our success depends of their decisions.