The GuardianThe Guardian

How to make big decisions more easily

By Joanna Moorhead

05 Jun 2022 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

We all have to make big decisions in life. This piece from The Guardian gives some advice on how to make them more easily.

Psychology professor Laurence Alison is an expert in how to make decisions, but in the early days of his career, it was all theoretical. Then one day he took a call from “someone very senior”, who described a worrying trend: police chiefs were showing themselves unable, in critical situations, to make crucial choices. “He asked, ‘Is there anything you can do to help?’”

There was. Alison – a straight-talking, no-nonsense person – started to translate what he knew from textbooks and turn it into practical advice. “Academic work on decision-making had concentrated on studying how they’re made in theoretical settings,” he says. “But I realised we needed to move it to real-time, lives-on-the-line situations: tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, where chances were, someone was being presented with a situation where almost every choice looked dire. I knew I had something to offer that would make a difference.”

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