Skip to main content
Unit of study_

OLET1644: How we make decisions

We like to believe that decision making involves simply weighing up the pros and cons of the different options before selecting the best one, so when people fail to do this (as they often do) they are viewed as irrational. However this viewpoint has been shown to be inaccurate even for important decisions. This unit will provide an introduction to how short-cuts, biases and emotion are integral to human decision making. These factors are often systematic, so we are expectedly irrational. You will first learn to recognise the common heuristics (short-cuts) and biases that have been identified by evaluating existing research and through demonstrations. From this foundation you will explore decision making more deeply and develop an understanding of the broader frameworks for comprehending it. You will then focus on the implication this has for improving your own decision making and how we can better present information and options to improve other people's decision making. From a public policy point of view these insights can be used to help nudge people towards beneficial choices, though advertisers also capitalise on these biases to influence human behaviour.

Code OLET1644
Academic unit Psychology Academic Operations
Credit points 2

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. reflect upon your own decision making.
  • LO2. describe and identify the major heuristics and biases that affect people's decision making
  • LO3. understand the implications these heuristics and biases have for how to present information to people making decisions
  • LO4. describe and explain the frameworks researchers have used to try to understand these heuristics and biases.
  • LO5. apply critical thinking to understanding how to improve the decision making of ourselves and others
  • LO6. be able to communicate competently about decision making and the implications of the evidence regarding heuristic and biases.

Unit outlines

Unit outlines will be available 1 week before the first day of teaching for the relevant session.