Controlled and Automatic Decision Making


Decisions are highly influenced by circumstances. These decisions may be automatic or controlled based on the attention given in making them, or based on whether they were highly influenced by the environment (Hastie& Dawes, 2010). This paper analyzes two decisions; automatic and controlled to see how ration the decision were.

Selection of Automatic and Controlled Decision

Automatic Decision

I have made a number of automatic in a number of situations but one of the most remembered one is the decision that I made in a day that I visited my sister’s house.  I thought of checking on them and when I got there, I found my niece with her nanny. My nice was lying on a sofa and she could not wake up as usual to great me. She just gave me a weak smile. I reached onto her and I found that she had a fever. I just took her and rushed to my car and in the next few minutes she was with the doctor.

Controlled Decision

I made a controlled decision when I decided to go back to school for my master degree. I remember that day my boss scoured for something I considered unnecessary and I was a bit pissed off. As I sat beside my desk after the quarrel I just thought, until when can I take this? What if I go back to school and advance and at least create a chance of one day being a manager rather than a normal employee. I did my evaluation and after a while I had made up my mind that I will enroll for a master degree in the town campus, which I did a week after preparing all necessary documents.

Evaluation of two Decisions Using Four Criteria of Rational Choices

Automatic decision

In the automatic decision, I based my decisions and moves on the resources that I had. I hadmy car with me, the child was my niece, and my mind signaled that she required immediate medical attention. The decision was based on the choice consequences. My niece could have waited for her parents, or I could have called the parents, but that could have worsened the situation and may be even put the child’s life in danger (Hastie & Dawes, 2010). Having her treated immediately was much safe. The chances of child getting better without treatment was low, the probability that the child could have stayed alive until her parents arrived was low. The choice made was highly adaptive to the necessary constraints. I managed to work with what I had without much strain and thus, this decision though automatic, it was rational (Glöckner&Betsch, 2012).

Controlled Thinking

The decision in this case was very circumstantial. It did not consider the availability of time, but only the much I could achieve by doing my masters. Though I had money, I never had enough time to go for a fulltime class. I could not leave my job for masters since I needed money to pay for it. I knew I would strain psychologically for I would have to endure work and education stress. The choice consequences involved committing all my free time to education (Hastie & Dawes, 2010). Though I would manage to advance my career, the choice would end up giving me a lot of pressure in life. It needed to be thought of carefully and not out of pressure. The choice also had a lot of uncertainties. The chances were if I complete my studies I would be promotes. However, this was not guaranteed, there were so many challenges that increased the chances of failure. Although the choice could adapt within constrains, the pressure would be quite high and more will need to sacrificed to make the choice a success. Based on this, the choice can be said to be irrational (Sollner et al., 2013).


The rationality of a decision depends on how well it fits in the four criteria of rational decision making. Although the first decision was automatic, it has been found to me more rational that the second decision. The analyzed automatic decision only considered the final outcome, without considering the constraints to be involved. This makes this decision irrational. While the automatic decision was not carefully thought of, it effectively fitted within the available constrains and has been found to be more rational than the controlled decision.

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