High Stakes Decision Making: Normative, Descriptive And Prescriptive Considerations

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Marketing Letters


This paper reviews the state of the art of research on individual decision-making in high-stakes, low-probability settings. A central theme is that resolving high-stakes decisions optimally poses a formidable challenge not only to naïve decision makers, but also to users of more sophisticated tools, such as decision analysis. Such decisions are difficult to make because precise information about probabilities is not available, and the dynamics of the decision are complex. When faced with such problems, naive decision-makers fall prey to a wide range of potentially harmful biases, such as failing to recognize a high-stakes problem, ignoring the information about probabilities that does exist, and responding to complexity by accepting the status quo. A proposed agenda for future research focuses on how the process and outcomes of high-stakes decision making might be improved