Is the cost of the latest iPhone reasonable? Should you accept an offer from your boss to advance your career? Is it worth paying for someone to come and fix your leaky toilet, or will you fix it yourself? While we may delude ourselves into believing that there is an objective approach to these decisions (and many others), such objectivity is in fact impossible. The reason is that almost all decisions depend on the context in which they are made.
Our outlook is extremely important for decision making that are consistent with our values, preferences, and past experiences. They are useful in making decisions, but it also means that they can add subjectivity to different judgments. This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless we forget this subjectivity and mistakenly conclude that others must reason as we do.
What is own outlook?
An own outlook is the breadth of knowledge and the breadth of a person’s interests. It is the volume of diverse knowledge and views of the world. The more interests a person has in different areas, the broader his outlook.
An own outlook is the context in which we interpret the world, evaluate different choices, and draw conclusions. We can break it down into two key elements when it comes to making decisions:
- The context of the decision. This item refers to the specifics of the decision situation, elements that will be the same no matter who is in that particular situation. For example, in the question we asked above about the latest iPhone this year, the version of the phone in question and its absolute value will be the same, regardless of who is making the decision;
- The psychological context. The decision situation is influenced by a person’s attitudes, beliefs, and previous experiences. In the iPhone example, this would be related to such factors as a person’s attitude toward iPhones (and smartphones in general), experience with them, knowledge of the features of the latest version, the length of time since the last purchase of the phone, and the current financial situation.
Decision-making ultimately depends on the situation. For example, a person who had a negative attitude toward the iPhone may well change his decision over time.
What is prejudgement?
As we have already discovered, the two elements form a single system in which we make decisions, with our beliefs, attitudes, preferences, and past experiences influencing the psychological context. Human attitudes represent a desire to favor a particular conclusion and can be seen as the dispositions and priorities that influence our final decisions.
Prejudgement is a stereotype-based and biased judgment of something based not on specific facts about someone, but on one’s own emotional perception.
If we return to our iPhone example, the Android user may have preconceived notions about Android phones and about the iPhone. Thus, these biases will affect the psychological context in which the Android user will evaluate the need for an iPhone.
Strongly held opinions explain the use of more consistent steps to make similar decisions, even if other elements of the decision context differ. For example, people who tend to follow the rules of the road may very rarely find themselves in situations where they conclude that exceeding the speed limit is justified.
In terms of the iPhone example, factors such as the age of your current smartphone, brand satisfaction, and whether the cost of a new iPhone meets your expectations can influence your opinion. Thus, these and other factors can form the basis that will lead you to any conclusion, whether it is positive or negative.
Changes in judgments can help you understand others better
A person’s outlook plays a big role in decision making. Understanding what changes affect the current outlook we have come to have can help us be more aware not only of our own decisions, but also the decisions of others.
For example, we often reason from our own perspective when evaluating the actions of others. And this can lead to judgments about people around us that are devoid of common sense and do not correspond to reality.
If you want to get to the bottom of the truth, it is important to acknowledge that there are opinions other than yours.
Unfortunately, many people do not follow this recommendation, evaluating certain events in a biased way. For example, younger people have a negative view of decisions made by previous generations, and company bosses are quick to judge a subordinate based on incomplete or ambiguous information.
It is worth remembering that bias is usually a decision made hastily. By making such superficial decisions, we risk getting a biased picture of what is happening that does not correspond to reality. It should be recognized that there are alternative explanations that might make more sense, and that there are other viewpoints as well.