Factors Influencing Decision Making

Imagine that a person has to choose between a good college or a good course. On the one hand, s/he is getting the best college but not their choice of subject; on the other hand, s/he is getting the course they want but not their desired college. What will the person choose, and on what basis will s/he make a choice? Will the person evaluate the pros and cons of choosing either option or will they choose either randomly? Is this choice affected by many factors, is it innate, or is the person predisposed toward the choice? Is there a proper cognitive process involved in decision-making?

Decision Making

Decision-making is choosing a valid option according to the problem presented. It is a cognitive and intellectual process that involves imagination (considering the consequences of every option), reasoning (a reason for choosing the alternative), evaluation (evaluating the consequences of every option and choosing the best alternative), and judgment. The decision-maker chooses the suitable course of action concerning the problem to help achieve the goal. It is a goal-oriented process, and those decisions are taken to attain the goal. It is a continuous process, has a systematic process, and is interactive. It is related to the place, situation, and time and has a context. As each decision always has consequences, it is important to communicate the results, and its effectiveness is enhanced by participation.

Factors Influencing Decision-Making

Many researchers have described their own sets of factors that could influence decision-making. Atmosudirjo described two important factors that influence the decision-making process: the nature of an organization and the personal capabilities of the decision-maker. The nature of the organization can influence decisions, as can the kind of environment present there, the work culture they follow, and the ways they can adapt to attain a goal. The decision maker's personality characteristics and individual differences, such as gender and age, experience, cognitive biases, and belief in personal relevance, could also influence decision-making. The individual or personal factor is considered the most difficult to control or predict in decision-making because many variables might involve this factor.

Arroba mentioned five factors affecting the decision-making process that related to the decision-maker (person), namely

  • Information concerning the concrete problem that needed to be solved − the less information known by the decision maker, the more erroneous the decision can be. The negatives and positives of the available solutions should be considered in any decision.

  • Educational Level − a good decision-maker is well-versed and knowledgeable. If the person is not well educated, he will be unable to consider the possible consequences of his decision. A decision-maker should know about the consequences his decisions could have.

  • Personality − According to the Big Five Factor Model, decision-makers are low on extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism and high on openness to experience and consciousness. Decision makers are low on agreeableness and neuroticism as they have to have control over their emotions and should take decisions with a rational mind, also considering the emotions of themselves and others. If they are neurotic, their emotions might influence their decisions. Agreeableness refers to agreeing and going with the flow, but decision-makers should see the bigger picture differently to make effective decisions. They are high on consciousness, as they are well organized and disciplined. Mostly, decision-makers seem to have serious personalities and are reserved, thus being low on extraversion, and their punctuality and discipline help them to be better decision-makers.

  • Coping − A good decision-maker can cope with new situations. Novel situations can be stressful and can influence decision-making as they might put much pressure on the person who has to make the decision. So to cope with a situation, the person should be prepared to tackle any problem.

  • Culture − Cultural factors influence every aspect of life. Culture influences how a person is brought up. In western culture, an individualistic approach is preferred compared to Asian culture, where collectivism is preferred. So, if the same problem is presented to a person from Western culture and the same problem is presented to someone from an Asian culture, both can arrive at different conclusions. This is due to cultural differences. A person hailing from the west would take a decision that would favor him individually. In contrast, a person from an eastern culture would favor a decision that would benefit the whole community.Either of the decisions is not right or wrong; both are justified in cultural context.

Individual factors like personality or culture are mostly related to psychological aspects of the individual, whereas organizational factors like level of education are organizational factors. Organizational factors are multiply determined and complex, unlike individual factors.

Another researcher, Syamsi, identified four factors that influenced the decision-making process. These factors are

  • State of an organization refers to whether it is a high-level institute or a small company.

  • Availability of information refers to enough information about the problem and the consequences of the decision.

  • An external condition or environment may refer to how supportive the environment is or to anyone else in a higher position than the decision-maker.

  • The personality and skill of the decision maker

The first three factors are included in the organizational factor, influencing the decision-making process. An organization's dynamic is also considered an important factor in influencing decision-making.


Decision-making is a skill in which a person must choose from the presented alternatives to solve a problem. A decision-making process involves many cognitive processes in choosing an effective decision, but like any other process, it can be influenced by many factors. Many researchers have studied the factors that could influence decision-making processes. The factors influencing decision-making are personality, culture, context, information available, and level of education. These factors should be kept in mind whenever a person is taking any decision, as some of them can be controlled but not all, like personality or culture. Nevertheless, these skills should be inculcated from the beginning of school.