Rational Decision-Making Process

Students demonstrate the ability to apply various decision-making strategies and employ a rational process that avoids rationalizations and elevates logic over emotions and facts over feelings including:  

  • Identifying long-term and short-term objectives; 
  • Devising alternative courses of action to achieve the objectives; 
  • Foreseeing potential consequences to each person or group affected by the decision (i.e., stakeholder); 
  • Choosing the course of action most likely to produce the optimum (i.e., best possible) result; and
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of the decision and making adjustments necessary to achieve the objectives.

Examples of tests for making decisions:

  • Role Model Test – do what you think a person you admire for ethics and wisdom would do. (e.g., Mother Teresa, your grandmother);
  • Publicity Rule – only do what you would do if you knew your decision would be known by everyone (e.g., reported on the 5 o’clock news or on Facebook);
  • Golden Rule test: Would I want people to do this to me?
  • The what‐if‐everybody‐did‐this test: Would I like it if everyone else did this?
  • Positive Outcome Test (consequentialism) – when ethical values conflict (e.g., where the truth would be unkind) choose the best possible result by determining which option is most likely to produce the most long-term good and do the least harm for the most people;

Recognizing important decisions:

  • Is there a possible danger of physical harm to you or anyone else?
  • Could you or someone else suffer serious emotional pain?
  • Could the decision hurt your reputation?
  • Could the decision impede achieving an important goal?
  • Could you or someone else suffer significant monetary or property loss?
Key Belief:

I will be a better student if I act on the following belief:

  • I will avoid resorting to rationalizing the decisions I make. 
  • Understand the difference between rationalization and a rational decision. 
  • Prepare scenarios that allow you to determine a course of action that is based on rational decision-making. 
  • Use literary works or historical documents to discuss if the choices made were rational or rationalizations.