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Mental representations of important real-life decisions
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. Psykologi.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2007 (English)In: European Journal of Operational Research, Vol. 177, 1353-1362 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Three studies investigated decision makers' memory representations of choice alternatives in most important real-life decisions. In study 1, each participant recalled the most important decision that she or he had ever made and rated to what degree a number of characteristics could describe the decisions. In study 2, the participants were asked to think about an important decision that they had made during the last 7 - 10 days. In Study 3, the memory representations of decisions of a group of action-oriented participants were compared with those of a group of state-oriented participants (Kuhl, 1983). Characteristics related to standard decision theory like consequences, values and likelihood had high ratings of applicability. Affect/feeling was also rated high, but there was no support for the circumplex model of emotions. Instead, an important decision problem was characterized by both positive and negative affect/emotion and thus, a bipolar mapping was found inadequate. A comparison of abstract and concrete aspects showed that the abstract characteristics scored higher. Action-oriented participants were predicted to score higher on activity than state-oriented participants, but this prediction was not supported. However, state-oriented decision makers rated passivity higher than action-oriented decision makers for the important decision of leaving a partner. State-oriented decision makers used perceptual/cognitive scenario representations to a greater extent than action-oriented participants. Finally, it was argued that in the development of decision theories it is essential to find theoretical representations as close as possible to how decision makers themselves represent the decisions. The decision processes that we want to model, understand and predict take place in the psychological representations of individual decision makers. The method used in this contribution stresses the role of memory in decision making and gives further insights into how important real-life decisions are represented by different decision makers.

Decision making, memory, mental representations

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 177, 1353-1362 p.
Keyword [en]
Behavioral decision making, mental representation, memory
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-19696ISI: 000242631600004OAI: diva2:186220
Available from: 2007-11-15 Created: 2007-11-15 Last updated: 2011-01-11Bibliographically approved

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Svenson, Ola
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