There has been a lot of work in recent years by António Damásio and many others on what states the brain is in when its owner makes a decision (maybe, thinks they are making a decision).
Damásio’s finding, and it has been corroborated by empirical studies, particularly of well volunteers in PET scanners, is that:
We all make decisions based on our feelings. Or, rather we make each decision when we are in our feelings.
In 1928, Carl Jung identified that people receive and process information in four ways: thinking, feeling, knowing and sensing. In the processing that goes towards decision making, thinkers use data: facts and figures; they analyse and deduce. Feelers consider their emotions, and there is a sense of ‘feeling their way’.
Knowers are the intuitive ones: they may not actually know how they made the decision, but they are sure it’s right (incidentally this certainty of being right doesn’t actually make them more right than anyone else!). And sensors will use the input from their senses to inform them.
(Incidentally, this work by Jung forms the basis of the Myers-Briggs (and many other) personality metrics so, unlike most advances in theoretical psychology, this one has been tried and tested millions of times.)
Notice I said ‘in the processing that goes towards decision making’ a couple of paras back. In other words, we harness our favoured mode when analysing the data, but we use feelings to make the decision.
So, the best way to make a decision is:
1 use the kinaesthetic (ie sensory) mode to add to and enrich the data and information you have available (and then stop doing that)
2 use the thinking (cognitive) mode to analyse that data and information—‘til the cows come home and then some, if you wish (and then stop doing that)
3 use the knowing (intuitive) mode to arrive at a possible decision (and then stop doing that)
4 use the feeling (affective) mode literally to ask yourself, how do I feel about that decision?
If you feel that the decision is not good enough, go back to steps 1 or 2 or 3. If you feel it is good enough, stop.
A couple of points
—the brain will normally do this for you, whether you think it is doing this or not. Best to “trust your instincts”,
—when you have a group of people with a collective responsibility for a decision:
- identify the individuals who are primarily thinkers, primarily feelers, and so on
- entrust to each respective group their part of the process
- do the steps 1-4 in order
- do not let the thinkers have another go afterwards!
© Jeremy Marchant 2016 . image: Free images