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Making decisions
Making decisions

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4.6 Post-decision evaluation

For most normally functioning people, maintaining self-esteem is an important internal goal. This can cause us to filter out or discount information that might show us in an unfavourable light. This is what lies behind the fundamental attribution bias. This is the tendency to attribute good outcomes to our own actions and bad outcomes to factors outside our control. While such defences against loss of self-esteem can be helpful to the extent that they help us persist in the face of adversity, they can reduce learning and reduce opportunities to take corrective action.

Another important internal goal is to maintain a sense of control over events and our environment. In consequence, a common way in which we distort our understanding of events is to assume we have greater control of events than we really do. When we suffer from this illusion of control, we are likely to underestimate the risks of our actions and decisions and have problems in learning from experience as we discount information that suggest we are not in control (Fenton-O'Creevy et al, 2003).