2014: The World Within

Special Area

The Science of Decision-Making

  1. Questions to Discuss

    • How do you make decisions?
    • How do you think other people make decisions?
    • How do groups make decisions?
    • What does economics tell us about decision-making?
    • What does psychology tell us about decision-making?
    • Are people’s decisions determined by biology?
    • How do we define good and bad decisions?
    • Why do smart people make mistakes?
    • How can decisions be influenced?
    • Do different groups of people (men and women, or teenagers and adults, etc.) make decisions differently?
    • When should people not be held responsible for the consequences of their decisions?
  1. Heads or Tails: Individual Decision-Making

    • Insights from Economics
    • Insights from Psychology
    • Insights from Neuroscience
    • Responses to Risk and Ambiguity
  1. All Together Now: Group Decision-Making

    • Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaboration
    • Explaining the Tragedy of the Commons
    • Majority Rules: the Promise and Peril of Democracy
    • Deciding for Someone Else: Surrogate Decision-Making
    • The Impact of New Technologies
  1. Introducing Game Theory

    • Game theory versus decision theory
    • The Keynesian Beauty Contest
    • Understanding Nash Equilibrium
  1. Under the Influence: Persuasion and Decision-Making

    • Persuasion by People
    • Persuasion by Technology
    • Structural Persuasion (see “Nudge”)
    • Mass Persuasion
  1. Philosophical Responses to Decision-Making

    • Consequentialism: Utilitarianism and the Common Good
    • Deontology: the Categorical Imperative and the Difference Principle
    • Virtue and fairness: Aristotle’s Golden Mean and the Golden Rule
  1. Additional Terms to Learn (Examples)

    • Decision Trees | Utility | Knowns and Unknowns |
    • Anchoring | Framing | Indifference Curve | Sunk Cost |
    • Marginal Cost | Revealed Preference | Opportunity Cost |
    • Risk Aversion | Ambiguity Aversion | Evolutionary Psychology
    • Shirking | Groupthink | Precautionary Principle | Rationality
  1. Game Theory Scenarios to Explore

    • The Prisoner’s Dilemma | Centipede Game | Rendezvous Problem
    • Traveler’s Dilemma | Two-Thirds of a Number | Deal or No Deal?
  1. Current Trends in the Study of Decision-Making (Examples)

    • “Big Data” | “Moneyball” | “Nudge” | “Blink | “Thinking Fast and Slow”