How rational are we?

David Hardman and Clare Harries ask whether we need lessons in decision making.
IN the areas covered by other articles in this special issue, as well as in many other domains, a major concern is whether the thought processes involved are suitable for producing the best outcomes. However, a wealth of evidence indicates that people do not generally think in accordance with the rational principles described by decision theory (for examples see Baron, 1994b). For some researchers this implies that people require education in decision-making techniques (e.g. Baron & Brown, 1991), but there are also some who question the appropriateness of rational models or claim that simpler processes can often be highly successful. In this article we review some of the research that addresses the tensions between these two viewpoints.

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