Thursday, May 24, 2012

Decision Making Research Paper

Decision Making Research Paper

This paper illustrates common thinking styles and studies their affect on critical thinking process. The research is mainly focused on distinctive features of convergent/divergent thinking and the reflection of emotional thinking on decision-making. The author came to the conclusion, that every mentioned style has its practical advantages and disadvantages in thinking, as some subjective side of purposeful activity, which practically changes objective conditions, means and subjects of a human life and by that forms the very individual and all his mental ability.

In decision-making process each of us, voluntarily or not, applies a certain thinking style. In the concept of thinking style finds its reflection one trivial fact - we think differently about same. In other words, when it comes to problem-solving or decision-making, two people, chosen at random, will most likely not simply approach to a situation in different ways, but behave, as if they deal with two different situations.

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From scientific perspective, individual distinctions in thinking appear to be very versatile and depend on a great number of factors, which makes it difficult to reduce them to a common denominator. Thinking style could be defined as open system of intellectual strategies, modes, skills and operations, which person is predisposed to. Thinking styles start to form in childhood, develop during all life and usually seem optimal to their bearers. Nevertheless, better understanding of thinking styles help us in finding common language with "difficult" people and influencing them more effectively, making our intelligence more powerful and effective and becoming more exact and impartial in perception, understanding and assessment of what other people speak and do.

Convergent and divergent styles in thinking
The model of structure of the intellect, discovered Joy Paul Guilford, marks out divergent thinking, as an ability to find as many possible answers to a particular problem, and convergent thinking, as an ability to find the best single answer to a problem.

Distinctive features of convergent style are abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. People, who belong to this style, are able to use efficiently different theories, embody in practice finished ideas and resolve problems, which are clear to them. In problem-solving and decision-making they prefer to deal rather with technical tasks and formulated problems, than with social and interpersonal relations issues.

Divergent style is characterized by dominance of concrete experience and reflective supervision. Individuals with divergent thinking can easily visualize of contradictory mixed situations. The given style is called divergent because such people feel confident in situations, which demand generation of new ideas and development of alternative prospects. They like creative activity connected with comprehensive consideration of the problems, based on search of the every possible information and so-called "brain storms». Such people use methods of an induction and differ in extraordinary width of interests. According to the research data, representatives of divergent thinking style are defined by the developed imagination, emotionality, bent for art and desire to work in the groups, where participants have different opinions.

In particular, the division of thinking into divergent and convergent and their various influence on management style is of great importance in understanding the specificity of the intelligence of manager. As practice shows, rather big load in activity of the manager is on convergent, rather than divergent thinking. It is caused by high responsibility and, consequently, with necessity of search of the most well-grounded decision, and also with the pronounced repeatability of typical situations of an administrative cycle, with regulatory requirements to this activity, etc. Convergent thinking style corresponds in full measure to practical problems as such, unlike theoretical, informative problems, which demand strong divergent abilities. Basically, the practically-social intelligence of the manager is a certain symptom complex, in which dominates convergent thinking. Of course, it does not mean that convergent thinking is better, than divergent, and the last is not important for the manager. The divergent thinking style is, certainly, also useful, and, moreover, in a number of management situations it is simply required. In confirmation to stated above is the fact, that overwhelming majority of those, who stay unemployed are convergent thinking. This could be explained by few factors – people with divergent thinking are easier to be trained and adapt to new conditions much quicker, they are more initiative, high creative, competent of the business and efficient in decision-making.

Emotional thinking style
Another controversial thinking style is emotional thinking. Though logic operations are integral part of thinking, it could not be defined as a process, based solely on logic and intelligence. Emotions frequently interfere in thinking process and change. In fact, submitting to the domination of blind feeling, our thoughts are being regulated by aspiration to conformity with subjective feeling, rather than with objective reality. They start to follow the principle of pleasure, instead of the principle of reality, and, as a result, our thinking selects those arguments, which speak in favour of desired decision. However, emotions are capable not only to distort, but also to stimulate thinking. It is well known, that feeling gives to the thought bigger passion, intensity, sharpness, purposefulness and persistence. Productive thought would be impossible without exalted feeling just like without logic, knowledge, skills and abilities. The only question is, how strong this feeling and whether it exceeds the bounds of the optimum, which provides certain reasonablenes of thinking.

In the processes of thinking emotions are especially pronounced during the moments of finding decision of a difficult problem. Here they perform heuristic and regulatory functions. Heuristic function of emotions consists in selecting some zone of optimal search, which has a required solution of the problem. Regulatory function of emotions in thinking is shown in their capability to speed up the active search of the necessary solution in the case, when it is conducted in a right direction, and slow it down, if the intuition prompts, that the selected course of the thought’s direction is erroneous.

As soon as the principle of the solution is found, or when there is an intuitive sensation of the approach to the solution, individual stays in the condition of emotional upheaval. The condition of emotional activation acts as some nonspecific signal of the "search stop " and indicates the actual approach of final decision-making. It could be also called an emotional anticipation of the basic problem-solution.

After all, the opposite side of emotional thinking style is the fact that decisions, based on vague intuitive impressions, cannot be logically analyzed and people make various decisions in most cases without any understanding, why one or another decision is being made.

Style of thinking plays a key role in decision-making process. And if thinking is considered to be an integrated and mediate of cognition of reality, than any decision in this contest could be best described as a main product of the thinking process, which provides generation of new ideas, search of variants, their estimation, comparison and, as a result, an alternative choice.

One of the examples of the differentiation of thinking styles is the polarity of convergent/divergent thinking, discovered by Guilford. The main difference between mentioned styles is that the first one is connected with ability to generate original decisions on the basis of the unequivocal data and is an indicator of creative basis, and the second one is aimed at search of the only correct decision, and indicates logic rational thinking.

Special place in understanding critical thinking belongs also its emotional compound. The psychology of the emotional thinking style has a range of characteristic features, which can influence the decision making process both positive and negative way. Representatives of the emotional type of thinking rely on intuition and own impressions, can long hesitate in decision-making and change it several times. They think in a figurative way, and are more inclined not to evaluate reality by common accepted norms, and proceed from their own idea of what is good or bad.

Though one fact remains to be undeniable – any critically thinking person should be able to admit in himself the presence of certain emotions. Ultimately, the awareness and skilful use of emotional sensitivity, emotional consciousness and emotional potential always lead a qualitatively new and higher level of thinking.
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