Perspectives on decision making by Ralph Keeney

10 Nov

Professor Ralph Keeney, world’s leading authority on behavioural sciences from the Duke University, gave a lecture at LSE some time ago, offering couple interesting views on the topic.

In addition to his summary slide bellow, his other main thoughts were following:



There are reactive decisions, which come to us and we are forced to make them, and there are proactive decisions which we generate and therefore we can exert more influence over them.


According to Prof. Keeney’s research, 56% of deaths in the US in 2000 were consequences of people’s personal decisions such as to drink and drive or to smoke cigarettes and get terminal lung cancer. He estimates the figure to be 20% and 5% in 1950 and 1900 respectively.


When making decisions, we are often guided by our objectives. It is therefore important to be aware of what our objectives are and to formulate them well. There are means objectives which’s accomplishment takes us to fundamental objectives.  In business, getting a product to market first, gaining competitive edge or increasing sales are all means objectives to the fundamental one of increasing profits. In personal life, being healthy or rich are means objectives to fundamental ones such as living meaningful or enjoyable life.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply