What Should I Do?

This isn’t really a question for my readers. This post is about decisions we make in our personal lives, decisions about finances, jobs, education, relationships, and many other things. Decision making involves social forces, free will, and psychological forces we are only dimly aware of.

You see, the idea that we do what we choose to do is partly true and partly illusion.

How does this work?

1. Peer pressure – friends get us to binge drink or drive too fast; coworkers get us to work harder than we planned to work

2. Childhood experiences – This is really from Pscyhology 101. Childhood experiences influence our ability to trust people and that ability (or lack of it) can affect our relationship decisions.

3. Mass Media – This is almost everyone’s favorite whipping boy when it comes to dicussing the causes of social problems. Television, magazines, radio, books, newspapers, and the Internet do affect us by giving us ideas about how we should live or what we should be afraid of.

4. The Generalized Other – a fancy term for the collective opinions and views that we think other people have: "What will people think of me if they see me doing ___________?"

5. Learning – Not just formal schooling, but all forms of learning can expose us to rules for making "good" decisions. We probably apply these rules without even thinking about them. You might buy a slightly used Honda Civic because this represents a "sensible" transportation choice. Your rules for picking a vehicle may have come from friends, family, and the media. Another person my consider a 2006 Miata to be a perfectly sound transportation choice because she is using different decision rules.

OK, so that was kinda interesting. What good is it? Maybe I can explain in my next post.

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~ by chetdavis on September 26, 2006.

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