Course Description

Course Name

Psychology of Decision Making

Session: VPGS1324

Hours & Credits

6 ECTS Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


1. Course Description
You and I make many decisions each day, some of them unconsciously and some with deliberation. We make decisions about how to use our time, what to prioritize, what to do about interpersonal conflicts, and where to go for lunch. We also make decisions with farther-reaching consequences like our next career move, who we want to date, and about the lifestyle we want to pursue. Social scientists study how people make these kinds of decisions and which processes produce the best results, the most happiness, and greatest
good. There is much to be gained by examining and applying the science and ancient wisdom of decision-making in our own lives.
This course is an exploration of making every day and long-term decisions through the lens of social science. We will examine why people make the decisions they do and practical, research-based ways to make better decisions personally and professionally. Topics will include cognitive biases in decision making, moral psychology of choice, creative problemsolving, insights from behavioral economics, the role of values/spirituality, leadership ethics, and group decision-making. The overall goals will be both to understand the dynamics involved in making decisions and to construct a framework by which students can make good decisions that can lead to theirs and others well-bring, success, and greater meaning in work and life.

2. Student Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:
1. Apply a research-based framework to a long-term decision the student is currently making.
2. Analyze the role of personality and bias in the choices one makes.
3. Practice a process of creative problem-solving to widen one’s options.
4. Assist another student in applying the principles of good decision-making to their lives.
5. Assess the role of reason and emotions in a decision-making process.
6. Formulate an ethical question model for making character-based decisions. 
7. Construct a research-based guide for overcoming a chosen psychological barrier to good decision making.
8. Diagnose the challenges to group problem solving in a professional context.

3. Reading Material
• All readings are available on NEO, our learning management system. Books we will draw from are listed under required materials.
Required Materials
• Duke, A. (2020) How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices. Penguin.
• Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2013) Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. Back Bay Books.
• Kahneman, D. (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
• Weston, A. (2007) Creativity for Critical Thinkers. Oxford University Press.
• Podcasts:
o The Happiness Lab with Laurie Santos
o Choicology with Katy Milkman
o Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam
o Freakonomics Radio with Stephen Dubner
o Worklife and Taken for Granted with Adam Grant

Recommended materials
• Hammond, Keeney, and Raiffa (2015) Smart Choices: A practical guide making better decisions. Harvard Business Review Press.
• Mesquita, B. (2022) Between Us: How Cultures Create Emotions. W.W. Norton and Company.
• Russo & Schoemaker (2002) Winning Decisions: getting it right the first time. Doubleday.
• Sparough, Manney, and Hipskind (2010) What’s Your Decision? How to make choices with confidence and clarity. Loyola Press.

4. Teaching methodology
This highly interactive class will draw from the readings on evidence-based practices for decision making. We will be applying the main principles of decision making through case studies, role plays, and personal reflection. Students will be actively analyzing, diagnosing, and applying the readings to individual and group scenarios. The instructor will use a “constructivist” approach, which means that students construct meaning through applying course material to specific contexts and problems.

*Course content subject to change