Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Forcing choice may hamper decision-making, study finds

Date:
January 23, 2013
Source:
University of Guelph
Summary:
Constraining choice isn't necessarily a good thing when it comes to managers' problem-solving, according to a new Canadian study. Managers tend to pick higher-risk options when forced to choose between competing alternatives to complex situations, according to researchers.

Constraining choice isn't necessarily a good thing when it comes to managers' problem-solving, according to a new Canadian study.

Managers tend to pick higher-risk options when forced to choose between competing alternatives to complex situations, according to researchers from the University of Guelph and University of Waterloo whose study was published recently in the Journal of Business Ethics.

But when they're not forced to choose, managers tend to reflect more and solve problems with fewer negative consequences, says the study.

"One of the most powerful tools to combat high-risk or unethical decision-making may simply be offering managers the option not to choose," said Theodore Noseworthy, a professor in Guelph's Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies. He conducted the study with colleague Prof. Scott Colwell and lead author Prof. Michael O. Wood of Waterloo's School of Environment, Enterprise and Development.

The research also underscores how psychological mechanisms can affect judgment and problem-solving, he added.

The researchers explored what influences decision-making and problem-solving in two separate studies.

In the first study, which involved 80 experienced managers, business leaders were more likely to take risks that could lead to unethical consequences when they felt psychologically distanced from the stakeholders. That meant their decision would take effect in the distant future or would affect a different social group.

Many managers were unaware of those potential outcomes. "Increased psychological distance can lead to managers overlooking the ethical consequences of an outcome," Noseworthy said.

A second study of 192 different managers also asked people to make decisions under "high" and "low" psychological distance. But participants were either forced to choose between competing solutions or given the option to reject both alternatives.

Once again, the majority opted for the higher-risk choice when they were more psychologically removed from the situation. However, when given the option not to choose, managers didn't exercise this option. Instead, they spent more time reflecting and opted for the less risky solution.

"Where this gets interesting is why this happens," Noseworthy said. "Managers were more likely to see the potential ethical consequences of their actions when they are given the option not to choose."

This study is one of the first to demonstrate that the rise in what Noseworthy refers to as "seemingly unethical decisions" may have more to do with an expanding global economy that increases the psychological distance between the decision-maker and those affected by the decision.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Guelph. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael O. Wood, Theodore J. Noseworthy, Scott R. Colwell. If You Can’t See the Forest for the Trees, You Might Just Cut Down the Forest: The Perils of Forced Choice on “Seemingly” Unethical Decision-Making. Journal of Business Ethics, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1606-x

Cite This Page:

University of Guelph. "Forcing choice may hamper decision-making, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123094740.htm>.
University of Guelph. (2013, January 23). Forcing choice may hamper decision-making, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123094740.htm
University of Guelph. "Forcing choice may hamper decision-making, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123094740.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins