Pure rational decision-making is difficult, if not impossible, as decisions are always coloured with emotions of the person who is taking the decision. Extremely emotional decisions, on the other hand, also lead us to wrong decisions. Both ‘cold reasons’ and ‘hot emotions’ are needed to make ‘right decisions’. A decision involves many processes. Researchers want to understand the computations performed in different brain areas, how they are similar or different, how different areas communicate with each other, how the information is transformed as it moves around in the brain, how different variables come together and form a decision. One needs to accumulate evidence for or against different choice options, evaluate their possible outcomes and risks, and suppress certain learned responses and biases.
There can’t be a set of universal laws of decision-making. Brain is like a toolbox with random tools. It takes out one particular tool to solve a specific problem. The problem is, how so many tools interact to solve an interrelated problem. Our brains are not big enough, and we don’t have requisite neurons to represent every situation that we might possibly encounter. Trustworthy decisions emanate from a trustworthy mind. You can’t trust others unless you trust yourself.
David DeSteno makes a very important observation: “Although it’s true that cooperation and vulnerability require two parties, no one ever said that the two parties had to be different people. To the contrary, the parties can be the same person at different times.” Being realistic, honest, and forgiving with yourself and others are helpful to deal with challenges of tough times.