Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Brain and the Decision

Since at least the 1970s we've all been acutely aware of the vagaries of the influence of the brain processes in concert with environment and context on decision making. Fair enough

For those that are not so acutely aware, begin with the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky -- their stuff is the classic treatment
Now comes more on the same line of thought -- no pun intended
No less an authority than Oppenheimer Funds posted an ad for financial decision making that had some good points for project managers
  •  First, as a matter of review, rational thought and emotional thought are supported differently in the brain: the latter in the limbic region and the former in the frontal lobe. So, each of us are likely equipped differently for the two thought influences ... Mars and Venus, as it were
  • Second, all decision making is a mix of the rational and the emotional. Some studies, reported elsewhere, have shown that under conditions of brain injury, a rational brain may get into an endless do-loop and not break out to a decision without a dose of emotion.
  • Our personal biology, beyond even the brain, is an influencer: reactions to gut feelings, etc in the "body-brain" system
  • Stress responses trigger hormones, and these in turn, through the body-brain thing, influence risk taking.
That is, risk appetite can vary with stress. It's not altogether fixed by context, experience, and track record. Risk appetite can be "in the moment"

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