How Reasoning Errors Affects Decision Making and Techniques to Avoid These Errors

Reasoning refers to the form of thinking where either inferences are drawn, or principles of logic are applied (Nisbett, 1993). Reasoning forms a relatively big part in our daily lives due to the challenges we encounter. People approach thinking differently and consequently the levels of their success following these approaches differ (Nisbett, 1993). In their reasoning, a lot of people make errors. Oftenly, many people prefer to avoid in-depth analysis of a problem by applying a strategy that is believed to give a good solution and in the shortest time possible (Nisbett, 1993). Decision making involves choosing between alternatives when one is faced by a given situation and it involves reasoning. If errors are made during reasoning, a wrong decision will be arrived at and thus there is need for application of techniques that can help reduce decision making errors.

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            Reasoning errors are several and they impact decision making in several ways. These errors include the different types of fallacies. One of these is the biased sample fallacy which is committed following drawing of an inference from a biased sample which means that the sample does not represent the population being considered (Nisbett, 1993). This leads to making of wrong decisions as reasoning is based on faulty statistics. Another source of errors in reasoning is application of heuristics which are defined as the rules of thumb that aid individuals in making decisions, solving problems, and drawing conclusions using little information (Nisbett, 1993). This leads to erroneous decisions as though situations may appear similar, they have their own differences and application of a heuristic approach means that only one aspect of the issue at hand is dealt with leaving the others which leads to errors (Nisbett, 1993). Other reasoning errors are committed in form of syllogisms where inferences are drawn from two categorical propositions. Errors result when the inference drawn is valid but not true and this forms the basis for decision making.

            Several techniques can be applied to help reduce occurrence of errors in decision making. One of this is collection of enough information and analyzing it correctly before reaching a conclusion. Collection of statistics forms a vital part in the process of decision making. To avoid errors when making decisions, samples should be taken randomly and in a manner that represents the whole population that is being considered. In addition, statistics should always act as an aid in the process of decision making and should never act as the sole basis for making decisions (Jones, 2000). In addition, it is important that one considers the factors that can possibly lead to variations. This way, one will be able to control them to ensure that the results obtained are more accurate which contributes to making of decisions which are free of errors or which have less errors (Jones, 2000).

            Another technique is critically analyzing the benefits and disadvantages of each alternative to help one arrive at a decision that has the least risks. This is because decision making is usually about deciding to take risks that are reasonable (Jones, 2000). Reasonableness varies depending on a situation and so this approach calls for analysis of each situation thus preventing errors such as those committed following application of rules of thumbs (Jones, 2000).

            We are all prone to making errors when arriving at decisions. To avoid these errors, there is need for conscious application of techniques to help reduce their occurrence. This way, people will not have to worry about consequences of poor decisions.


Jones, N. R. (2000). The decision-making pocketbook. U.K.: Neil Russel-Jones.

Nisbett, R. E. (1993). Rules for reasoning. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.



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