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Outside Factors That Influence Decision Making

 
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In the book Are We Done Fighting? by Matthew Legge, he goes into some discussion about how making decisions can be influenced by more factors than just logical reasoning.

Since decision making can be mentally strenuous, having a break, for example, could make judges more lenient.

The research, which examined judicial rulings by Israeli judges who presided over parole hearings in criminal cases, found that judges gave more lenient decisions at the start of the day and immediately after a scheduled break in court proceedings such as lunch.



And temperature can affect how we view others and ourselves:

In the second study, participants held heated or frozen therapeutic packs as part of a product evaluation study and were then were told they could receive a gift certificate for a friend or a gift for themselves. Those who held the hot pack were more likely to ask for the gift certificate, while those who held the frozen pack tended to keep the gift.



What other factors could influence a person's decision making abilities?
 
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* Family, particularly trying to please our family.

* The incentive of making a profit.  How many really poor decisions were guided by the temptation offered by others that play upon our greed or lack of contentment.

* Coercion.  People are manipulative -- and sadly, we go along with the crowd all to easily.


Its actually much easier for me to think of internal factors that influence decisions making than external ones.
 
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If a person is unfortunate enough to have a physical pain (like a scratched eyeball, pulled muscle, swollen joint, etc.) then decision making can be hasty due to the distraction...or the decision can be different altogether to avoid further irritation. A decision can even have a snappy, agitated tone or result from the discomfort.

Oddly enough, I always thought "a chip on your shoulder" meant that the person had a "chipped" bone or damaged shoulder so they were irritable due to the pain - turns out that's not the case.

It simply means someone literally walking around with a wood chip on their shoulder in an attempt to provoke another to knock it off, and start a fight.  




 
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When my sciatica is is full flow I make poor decisions based on the fact that those around me turn from rational human beings into complete morons. You know, like wben you are preganant or turning 13.
 
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Physical factors and physiological factors can play a huge part in decision  making and even have personality altering effects which can play a part in decision making.
Examples, parathyroid gland failure, this can create "anger issues" which will then affect the decision making processes, Pain has already been mentioned by Ty and Mandy, some medications will also have affects on the mind's ability to process and that effects decision making.
One very well documented medication that tends to be misused by Body Builders is the anabolic steroid, this drug will bypass the brains decision making to the point that many body builders have actually torn muscles during work outs because they didn't "feel" the muscles tiring out to the point of failure or they ignored the signals the muscles were sending.
 
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I have an inoperable tumor pressing on my brain stem, and because of it, I am very indecisive. Bryant eluded to this condition which is part of the Endrinal System.

An example of that was yesterday, when a rock put a hole in my tire in the middle of nowhere, I had a hard time choosing between plugging the tire, and putting on the spare tire. It is a pretty easy decision, but for me, I am so unsure what to do, that I struggle with inactivity. In short, the tinest hurdle makes me so stressed, that I cannot funtion.

It is now to the point where I am thinking of giving Power of Attorney to Katie (my wife) because severe anger influences my decisions.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Travis - I think that is a good decision to make. Well done.
 
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Dave Burton wrote: What other factors could influence a person's decision making abilities?



Alcohol. I drank a lot when I was in my twenties. Things would show up in the mail or by UPS with my name on it, and I'm wondering who's sending me packages. With a little research I would discover that I had, for example, watched a public television fundraiser while drunk and forgot I donated $50 and they sent me a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer. It was a good book by the way. Another time a CD of Eric Clapton & Friends The Breeze - A tribute to JJ Cale arrived one day and then I started to recall I watched a documentary some nights prior and I guess I thought it was so cool I ordered it. I listened to it a few times, it was pretty good. It's ok to laugh. I quit drinking years ago.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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I think grief could affect one's decision making. I know I made a couple of decisions when my parents were dying that with hindsight I wouldn't have made, to do with jobs I wasn't  happy in,  or the way I treated co workers. Not just the grief in itself, but playing on the grief too.
 
Travis Johnson
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I have found to walk on eggshells when people are in (2) situations:

Going through a Divorce
Going Through Financial Hardship

I have noted that when people absolutely go off on me for no real reason, one of those two things are in play. Either they are struggling in a relationship, or having a hard time financially.

This would play into decision making they are making for sure.
 
Marco Banks
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I don't know if this would be an external factor or more of an internal one, but growing up in a dysfunctional family profoundly effects the decision making capacity of the child in the years and decades that follow.  Co-dependency is the need to rescue a situation (or more accurately, a person) that is in crisis.  So you'll have a child stepping up to play a parental role because dad is passed out on the couch, drunk, and mom is an emotional basket case.  Rather than enjoying the innocence of childhood, they assume the mantle of leadership, taking care of their siblings and even the parents themselves.

Adult children of alcoholics (ACOA's) tend to grow up with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, assuming care for anyone and everyone else who is in need.  Often they'll marry an alcoholic or a person who needs excessive care, because they feel this compulsion to rescue someone --- that's just normal to them.  If they are not at the center of a storm, fixing the problems of all the messy people around them, they don't feel that they have a purpose in life.  But as a result, they always put their own needs at the back of the line, and feel that they can't ask the simple question, "what is in MY best interest?".

So is that an external factor?  The seeds of codependency were planted by external circumstances in their childhood, and continue with them throughout their life.  
 
Dave Burton
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I think it is interesting to consider these factors, as well, that can affect people's ability to make decisions- food/hunger (Your Decisions are What You Eat), exposure to sunlight, and infectious diseases:

But it is not just metabolic processes related to food and energy that affect decision-making processes. Other factors such as infectious diseases or low daylight also affect metabolism and thereby rational thinking and risk-related behaviour.

 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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I spend a large amount of my day outdoors and I KNOW that makes me feel better and happier, therefore better decisions. Also, riding my bike clears my mind, as does knitting which has been shown to have a very positive effecton one's thought processes. Coming to Permies everyday makes me feel in contact with the World, to lovely people being nice to each other. Also a big help to making healthy decisions. Extra thanks here to Nicole who always points me in the right direction, and Pearl who is inspirational and has put me on the path to making same good decisions about my and him indoors health.
 
Travis Johnson
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I know for me, being tired influences my decision making. I have really been struggling with really the ultimate decision of late, and it really gets strong when I am really tired. I have to try and remind myself, "You are just tired, you will feel differently if you can get some rest."

So I think fatigue is a huge influencer.
 
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Low oxygen levels in the brain.
I have sinus damage that makes it weird to breathe sometimes, so I have noticed this. But it seems to be the same when anything that lowers O2 levels, like not moving around much, sedation from any source, stuffy rooms, pollution, chemicals in the air, allergies, lung issues, low iron levels, breathing shallowly due to tiredness, some medications, and I'm probably missing a bunch of other things.

The learning I have done seems to point to the amygdala, one of the oldest parts of the brain, when slightly stressed for oxygen, reacting with mild panic type reactions, which affects the decision making parts of the brain with a low grade sense of unease, just enough to keep you mentally off balance. When the O2 levels get lower, that reaction gets worse, and the low O2 starts to directly affect the decision making parts, making them less able to function normally. The amygdala is an old structure in the brain, and it evolved to keep us from dying. If an animal is in a space that is too small, and is running low on air, that sense of unease will encourage them to move around, get out of that space, and not suffocate. This is a survival mechanism. Modern life affects that old survival mechanism in unexpected ways, but if you aren't aware that its is being affected you can take steps to work with it.

Easiest step to take to increase O2 in the brain is not to take a deep breath, it's to EXHALE three deep breaths. Inhaling is easy, but we all get lazy about exhaling, and the stale air in the lungs keeps us from getting good fresh air in. Breathe out everything in your lungs, until you squeak! Then inhale and blow it all out again, try to get every last drop out of your lungs, inhale, then exhale hard one more time get it all out! You will feel your head clear up quite a bit, even it wasn't bad to start with. A good easy exercise to work into your day!! Try it a few times a day for a week or so, you may be pleasantly surprised by the results. :D
 
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Mandy Launchbury-Rainey wrote:I think grief could affect one's decision making. I know I made a couple of decisions when my parents were dying that with hindsight I wouldn't have made, to do with jobs I wasn't  happy in,  or the way I treated co workers. Not just the grief in itself, but playing on the grief too.



When my dad passed away, I was horribly grief stricken, and choose to give up on the diet & lifestyle changes that had only just begun to help me, because it suddenly felt like it was too hard, not helping anyway, and I just didn't care. Instead, I began eating my emotions, and gained another 20lbs, which served to severely aggravate all my pain. The scary thing about deeper emotions effects on decision making, is that they tend to be longer - lived, and can cause lifelong changes to your personality and decision making. It took almost two years to pull out of that tailspin that could have cost my life. Compounding my grief, John's mom passed away about 15months after my dad, so we'd both lost the parent we were closer to. The one really good decision we both made was to cling to one another, through it all. Otherwise, I honestly don't know that either of us would have survived. There is a very valid reason that one of the biggest 'DON'Ts' of grief, is making big decisions, like selling your home, for at least a year after losing a spouse or child.
 
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