Decision Making Shortcut

Decision Making Shortcut

Human success and failure largely depend on their ability to make the right decisions in their personal and professional life. However, decision-making is a very complicated subject, no one can make the right decision all the right.

One has to analyze the different aspects of available information while making decisions. Similarly, they are affected by various internal and external factors while making decisions. Decision-makers can not go through all available information to them so they use a shortcut approach while making decisions.

Each decision is an option that could have been made differently. It’s a turning point in the path of human behavior. You have the option to choose one or both of these options, but once you make your decision, there is no going back.

Everyone knows the feeling of making a decision. What we don’t often realize is why our choices are made. It is difficult to identify the source of our decisions, particularly when these are the choices we make every day as consumers.

Market researchers believed that consumers made decisions based on rational calculations utilizing all available information to balance benefits and costs.

However, most consumers act illogically and irrationally. Consistently, they make decisions that are contrary to the rational consumer model. Modern brain science has shown that this is true.

The brains of humans don’t work the same way they used to.

  • Our conscious brains are lazy controllers for our unconscious minds and prefer quick, efficient, and simple solutions to our daily life problems.
  • We are naturally curious and drawn towards novelty, but it is not something we can trust.
  • We trust familiarity and base many of our decisions on what is most familiar.
  • Things that are simple to process appeal to us to the extent that processing fluency can be mistaken for intrinsic goodness, truth, persuasiveness and safety.
  • Priming is a key component of our thinking. It links ideas consciously and unconsciously. This has a significant impact on how we think and react to the world around.
  • Emotional markers, which operate below our conscious awareness, have a significant impact on our judgments and preferences. They also influence what we see and remember.
  • Motivation is often based on goals that we don’t know we have. The success or failure of these goals can affect our moods and performance in ways that are difficult to comprehend.
  • Habits are a major driver of our behavior. They are triggered by environment cues and can be triggered without us even realizing we have any goals or intentions.

Judgement Heuristics

Heuristics can be used to help with problem-solving and probabilistic judgments. These strategies, also known as rules-of-thumb or generalizations of the mind, can reduce cognitive load and be useful for making instant decisions. However, they often lead to irrational decision-making paths.

In the 1970s, Kahneman and Tversky were the first to study how behavioral economists use judgment heuristics, to assess situations in which they make decisions. Here, are a few marketing implications of such behaviors.

Loss Aversion

Gains and losses are not valued equally. Stock traders tend to sell gains sooner than they should and keep losing stocks longer than necessary. Consumers are more likely to accept offers that aim to avoid losses, such as “limited time” offers than those that provide gains.


We prefer to make relative estimates, not absolute ones. We’ll likely buy a $30 wine bottle next to a $130 one. We won’t buy the same wine if it is next to a $20 one. Anchoring is a common technique in pricing consumer products.


If you put the right message in the right frame, it will sell itself. A tax is called an “estate tax” and 80 percent of people support it. This is because only the wealthy have estates. If it is called a “death tax,” 80 percent are against it.

Consistent biases are shown by consumers based on linguistic framing. Consumers will choose “75% lean ground beef” over “25% fat ground beef”, even though they are identical.

Default Bias

We’re suckers for defaults. People who have to tick a box in order to become organ donors are only able to participate at 5%. People who must check a box in order to refuse to become organ donors are at about 80 percent. Consumers find defaults especially effective in subscription services, where the default is to renew the subscription. However, special action is required for cancellation.

Affect Heuristic

We use our likings to substitute for more complex assessments. Emotional responses are used as substitutes for more complicated risk assessments, frequency estimations, safety evaluations, or even forecasting future economic performance in different industries.

Affect (simple liking/disliking) can be used by consumers to avoid complex combinations of risk/benefit, and substitute positive or negative feelings for difficult logical calculations.

Endowment Effect

Things we have are more valuable than those we don’t. When asked what they would pay for a regular coffee mug, the average answer was $3. Another person was given a similar coffee mug as a present and asked how much they would be ready to sell it for.

The average response was $7. This effect can be seen for consumers in bundling sales strategies. If car buyers start with fully loaded models and then remove the ones they don’t need, they will end up purchasing more options.

Our brains are cognitive misers so we tend to rely only on a few judgment heuristics to make decisions and evaluate situations. These heuristics can simplify complex decisions and make them simpler. Instead of engaging in complex deliberative calculations, instead, we apply a heuristic that feels right “in our gut”.

Science of Persuasion

Robert Cialdini is an emeritus Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University. He has spent his entire career studying persuasion. His book Influence: Psychology of Persuasion is one of the most widely read business books. It has more than 2 million copies.

Scientists have studied the factors that influence us to say yes when we are asked by others. There is a science behind how we persuade others. This science has been around for over 60 years.

It would be nice to believe that decision-makers consider all information available to help them make a decision. But the truth is, our lives are more complicated than ever.

To guide our decision-making, we need to have shortcuts or rules of thumb. A few popular shortcuts for decision making are:


A person who accepts a small gift is more likely to return the favor, regardless of how insignificant and unwelcome.

A series of studies in restaurants is one of the best examples of the Principles of Reciprocity. There’s a good chance the waiter or waitress gave you a gift at the time they bring you your bill. Perhaps a liqueur or fortune cookie or simple mint.

A surprise gift of mint can make a big difference. The study found that offering diners with a single mint at the end of a meal increased their tips by about 3%.

It is interesting to note that tips do not double if the gift has been doubled and two mints have been given. In fact, they quadruple, which is a 14% increase in tips.

The most striking thing is that tips skyrocket if the waiter gives one mint and then pauses and says one extra mint for an awesome customer like you. This 23% increase is not due to what was given but how it was received by customers.

Commitment and Consistency

A public commitment can make a person more likely to follow through with it, even if it is trivial or insignificant.

People want to feel consistent with their identity and self-image. This means that if I think of myself as “healthy”, then I’m more likely than others to take actions I consider healthy.

This type of behavior is common in the marketplace. For example, introductory offers that are easy and cheap can be used as a gateway to other products. Similar results can be achieved with product giveaways.

The marketer may give you a “chocolate” for free in the supermarket. This will help you identify yourself as chocolate and make you more likely to follow that identity into the future.

Social Proof

A person is more likely to conform to the behavior of others if they see other people doing it or are exposed to evidence.

This is a classic example that most people have seen: hotel towels. A sign that states “8 of 10 hotel guests prefer to reuse their towels” is more persuasive than one that says “reusing your towel helps the environment”.


A person who believes that someone in authority approves of a certain choice or behavior is more likely to follow his or her advice.

In many areas of our lives, we see the principle of authority in action. White-coated dentists sell toothpaste to us, and airline staff is often seen in uniforms reminding us of our authority. Many an email signature includes a list of qualifications to help increase an individual’s authority.


A person who likes the person asking for something is more likely to give it.

Three factors are essential in persuasion science. People who are like us. We also like people who compliment us. And we love people who work with us to achieve mutual goals.

This principle is often seen in advertising and marketing. Nearly all advertisements will feature people that appeal to the target market. The more a consumer is able to associate with that person and enjoy them, the more they will be influenced.


A person who believes that something is rare or in limited supply will be more interested in it and more likely to purchase it.

The science behind convincing others with the Scarcity Principle is simple. It is not enough to simply tell people what benefits they will get if they choose your products or services. It is important to highlight the uniqueness of your proposal and what they will lose if you don’t consider their offer.

Limits to Persuasive Communication in Consumer Decision Making

You must grab a customer’s attention and make sure he/she listens to your arguments. Then, get them to recall your arguments the next time they have an opportunity to purchase your product. This is a complex task that requires a lot of cognitive responsibility from the consumer and can lead to many problems.

Two perspectives are offered by brain science to tackle this problem:

  • Market researchers and marketers can learn from it why convincing people with claims and arguments is difficult, considering how intuitive consumers think and make decisions.
  • This raises the possibility that all the effort might be pointless. As a marketing tool, persuasive messaging might be underrated.

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