Why we behave—and decide—the way we do

Organisational ailments, such as too much complexity, often interfere with good business decision making and execution. But they aren't the only source of trouble. Even in the best of circumstances, people must ultimately make and execute decisions, and we human beings are even more complicated than a tangled org chart or a messy decision process. We are prisoners of emotions, habits and biases. We choose A rather than B for reasons that we often don't understand. These pitfalls can ensnare individuals who are making decisions; they can also cause groups to go astray.

The good news is that psychologists and behavioral economists have been studying why people decide the way they do. In this article we'll look at individual behaviors, highlighting just four of the many obstacles that these scholars have identified. If you're aware of the traps, you are far less likely to be snared by them-and your decisions and actions will be that much better.