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2018/2019  KAN-CCMVI2038U  Psychology of Decision Making - We are not Irrational, are we?

English Title
Psychology of Decision Making - We are not Irrational, are we?

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration Summer
Start time of the course Summer
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Course instructor - Kinga Konczey, Program director, International Business School; Budapest, kingakonczey@gmail.com
    Sven Bislev - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
In case of any academic questions related to the course, please contact the course instructor or ISUP academic director, Sven Bislev at sb.msc@cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • Customer behaviour
  • Management
  • Business psychology
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 05/12/2018

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Demonstrate understanding of the major decision making theories as they apply to various business, management, or real-life settings;
  • Be able to analyse real-world problems, evaluate data appropriately by identifying gaps and making thoughtful assumptions;
  • Identify the mental models that underlie decision makers' thinking processes;
  • Recognise crisis situations and present appropriate strategies for handling them;
  • Recognise the various processes that lead decision makers to be „less than rational” and suggest ways to overcome their limitations and inconsistencies;
  • Identify strategies for dealing with various levels of ambiguity and uncertainty in problem solving and display understanding of the role of intuition in the decision making process.
Course prerequisites
No direct prerequisites, but background in Organisational Behaviour or Management will be seen as useful. Work experience is a bonus.
Psychology of Decision Making - We are not irrational, are we?:
Exam ECTS 7.5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer, Ordinary exam: Home Assignment: 25/26 June - 29 July 2019. Please note that exam will start on the first teaching day and will run in parallel with the course.
Retake exam: Home Assignment: 72-hour home assignment: 8-11 October 2019 – for all ISUP courses simultaneously
3rd attempt (2nd retake) exam: 72-hour home assignment: 25-28 November 2019 – for all ISUP courses simultaneously

Exam schedules available on https:/​/​www.cbs.dk/​uddannelse/​international-summer-university-programme-isup/​courses-and-exams
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Retake exam: 72-hour home project assignment, max. 10 pages, new exam question
Exam form for 3rd attempt (2nd retake): 72-hour home project assignment, max. 10 pages, new exam question
Course content and structure

Having completed business or management education, most of us are searching for the keys to adaptive decision making in classrooms, textbooks and other controlled environments with clear metrics and practical tools. Rigorous analytical methods can help us in well-ordered situations. Frequently, however, what we were taught about making tough choices quickly falls apart, because the dynamic real-world situations are anything but well structured. We have to rely on our experiences, intuition and creativity instead, and look for a different set of approaches.

A major focus of this inter-disciplinary course is whether, or under what conditions, people deviate from normative rules of decision making that have been developed by other disciplines, such as economics or management. We will examine ambiguous situations which are difficult to comprehend, and where conventional methods may not lead to good solutions. We will explore assessments of risk and uncertainty, including research on heuristics and biases. We will approach decision situations from the individual’s perspective, through the different lenses of individual personalities and styles. We will see how decisions are actually made and how psychological processes can explain the apparent deviation from logic and rationality. 

This course will help students develop personal competencies in the following areas:
- Enhancing mental effectiveness by learning the psychology behind rational thinking, as well as its barriers;
- Identifying personal decision making styles and recognising the styles and strategies of others; 
- Strengthening problem solving, decision making and negotiation skills.


Preliminary assignment:  Preliminary readings (as per syllabus) and completing two tests (from 'learn')

Class 1: Thinking about thinking: Mental models; tests, case study discussion 

Class 2: Personality types; self-awareness, cultural values 

Class 3: Stress in decision making, crisis management - in-class experiment

Class 4: Problem solving and decision making; Decision models

Class 5: Are we rational? - concept of rationality; ‘quasi-rationality’

Class 6: Limits to decision making; cognitive biases

Feedback activity: short reflective analysis of a personal decision

Class 7: Ambiguity; Crisis decision making

Class 8: Creative problem solving. Intuition

Class 9: Interactive decision making – negotiation

Class 10:Negotiation styles, psychology of persuasion

Class 11:Comprehensive Review

Description of the teaching methods
Academic concepts and theories will be introduced through readings and focused lectures. Experiential learning tools will be incorporated in the study program, such as inventories, problem solving exercises, role plays, case studies, film clips, games, and simulations, as well as in-class experiments. Collective learning will emerge through the creative class work.
Feedback during the teaching period
A one page long reflective analysis of an individual problem solving or decision making experience, with the application of course concepts. With this feedback activity students may practice the depth of analysis required in the final project and receive feedback on how to improve.

All Home Project Assignments/mini projects are based upon a research question (problem formulation) formulated by the students individually, and must be handed in to the course instructor for his/her approval no later than 11 July 2019. The instructor must approve the research question (problem formulation) no later than 16 July 2019. The approval is a feedback to the student about the instructor's assessment of the problem's relevance and the possibilities of producing a good report.
Student workload
Preliminary assignment 20 hours
Classroom attendance 33 hours
Preparation 126 hours
Feedback activity 7 hours
Examination 20 hours
Further Information

Preliminary Assignment: To help students get maximum value from ISUP courses, instructors provide a reading or a small number of readings or video clips to be read or viewed before the start of classes with a related task scheduled for class 1 in order to 'jump-start' the learning process.


Course timetable is available on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams


We reserve the right to cancel the course if we do not get enough applications. This will be communicated on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams end February 2019 at the latest.


Expected literature

Mandatory readings:


• Klein, G. (2011) Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making. A Bradford Book The MIT Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts (350 p.)
• Scott Plous: The Psychology of Judgment And Decision Making ISBN-13: 978-0070504776  ISBN-10: 0070504776 McGRAW-HILL
• Kirby, L.  (1997) Psychological Type and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. in Developing Leaders:  Research and Applications in Psychological Type and Leadership Development.  Davies-Black Publishing. CA (30 p.)
• Senge P. Mental Models (1992) adapted from Chapter 10, Senge: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Doubleday/Currency. (12 p.)
• Arnold, J. and Randall, R. (2010):  Stress and Well-Being ad Work.  in Work Psychology: Understanding Human Behavior at the Workplace. 5th Ed.  Pearson  (60 p.)
• Matzler, K., Bailom, F., and Mooradian, T.A.(2007)   Intuitive Decision Making.  MIT Sloan Management Review. Cambridge: Fall 2007. Vol. 49, Iss. 1; p. 13  (3 p.)
• Harvey, J. B. (1988). The Abeline Paradox: The Management of Agreement. Organizational Dynamics, 1988 Summer, pp. 17-43. 
• Hayashi, A. M. (2001). When to Trust Your Gut. Harvard Business Review, Feb 2001. pp 59-65.
• Gigerenzer, G. (2005): I think, Therefore I Err. Social Research. Vol 72. No 1. pp195 -218.
• Goodwin, P., Wright, G. (2014) Decision Analysis for Management Judgement, 5th Edition.  Wiley
• Hammond, J.S., Keeney, R.L. and Raiffa, H. The hidden traps in Decision making. Harvard Business Review. 2006, January.
• Bonabeau, E. (2003) "Don't trust your gut (in complex situations, intuition can be counter intuitive)". Harvard Business Review Vol. 81, Iss. 5, pp. 116 - 124. 
• Sadler-Smith, E., and Shefy, E. (2004) "The intuitive executive: Understanding and applying 'gut feel' in decision-making". The Academy of Management Executive Vol. 18, 4, pp. 76 – 91. 
• Trailer, J., and Morgan, J. (2004). Making ‘good’ decisions: what intuitive physics reveals about the failure of intuition. Journal of American Academy of Business Vol. 4, 1/2, pp. 42 – 48. 
• Case studies, inventories and tests will be made available during the course
• Further reading may be recommended or uploaded on the course website.


Additional relevant readings:


Harvard Business Essentials, Decision Making: 5 Steps to Better Results by Business Essentials Harvard (Paperback - Jan 31, 2006)

Ariely, Daniel. (2010) Predictably irrational (Expanded edition), Harper Perennial 

Baron, Jonathon. (2008) Thinking and Deciding (4th Ed). Cambridge University Press.

Stanovich, Keith E. (2010) Decision making and rationality in the modern world. Oxford University Press.

Last updated on 05/12/2018