Improving decision making

What is this cause?

Improving decision-making means improving our ability to form accurate beliefs about the world and act on this information to achieve our goals. This is a broad cause, including a growing research program aimed at improving forecasting, for instance Philip Tetlock’s Good Judgement Project, studies of expert judgement in psychology and behavioural economics (see Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman for an overview), prediction markets (e.g. as promoted by Robin Hanson), and efforts to develop rationality training, as advanced by the Center for Applied Rationality.

Why do we think it’s high-priority?

Improving decision-making is rated highly as a cause by many in the effective altruism community, including those at the Center for Applied Rationality. It’s an important cause because improved decision-making could increase society’s ability to deal with a variety of important global challenges (including existential risks). Nevertheless, we rate it as less robustly important than promoting effective altruism or global priorities research.

The cause seems uncrowded, at least in some parts. For instance, the Centre for Applied Rationality is the only organisation we know to be working on rationality training and building a rationality community. On the other hand, there are major research programs in psychology and economics working on some issues within this cause, so we don’t think it’s highly uncrowded. We also haven’t been presented with evidence that there’s a particularly pressing need for more resources within this cause.

We rate is moderately for tractability, because although some approaches to improving decision-making have been identified, we haven’t seen much evidence to suggest they’ll be effective to implement in practice, or that they would have a large impact on our lives.

See all our resources on improving decision-making.