is a subset of our information processing capabilities. To make
decisions we draw upon our sensory inputs, either externally or
internally generated. We also draw upon our workbench of working
memory to process these stimuli and to access long-term memory for
prior experience and knowledge.
make many thousands of decisions each day—most of which we
are not aware of making. At our desks, we may shift position in
response to an internal stimulus of discomfort or we may decide
to go to lunch because of internal hunger pangs. In response to
external stimuli, we may answer a ringing telephone or respond to
a request from a coworker.
decisions of which we are most aware are those on which we expend
time and effort contemplating. These typically involve planning
and weighing the outcomes of several alternatives. In a work setting,
this may include deciding the next step in a task, evaluating results
and making recommendations, or planning work products for the next
year. In our personal lives, examples may include choosing a car
to purchase, where to go on a vacation, or a school for our children.
humans make decisions has been a documented topic of interest since
the time of Aristotle. It has significant implications for everything
ranging from our personal lives and work performance, to society as
whole in national policy making, economics, and social welfare.
In human factors, it impacts how human-to-system interfaces and
decision support systems are best designed to aid efficient, error-free