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Friday, February 18, 2011

Making Choices...

All of us are faced with making choices of different kinds at different points in time. Some choices are more important and difficult and have a long term effect - For example - choosing a school from the various admits; accepting a job offer among the various job offers; choosing a life partner, choosing an investment, choosing a house to buy etc etc... Some other choices are much more mundane and unconscious and are quickly forgotten - like - choosing what to wear to work; choosing which restaurant to go out and eat, choosing a movie to watch etc. etc...

I have been thinking about how exactly do we make these choices? What are the different factors that influence these choices - (1) Are they influenced by the unsaid/implicit and explicit rules in the society, (2) By what are peers do/dont do, (3) By what our role-models do/dont do, (4) By what members of our family have/have not to say?, (5) by our past experiences, (6) By our sense of intuition, (7) by our superstitious beliefs, (8) by the astrological advisors, (9) by our analytical skills, (10) by our power of reasoning, (11) by our desire to satisfy our ego!, (12) by the recognition and realization of our own strenghts and weaknesses, (13) by where we are on the "being practical" to "being ideal" slider (some of these points are in themselves a whole new topic of discussion!).

How much weight do these factors have on our final choice. Does the weightage change based on the circumstances? When is it that we find it difficult to make a choice - Which of these factors are in conflict then?? What kind of people give importance to what kind of factors - For example - does a scientific mind make its choice based on analytical and reasoning skills as compared to a religious mind that might choose based on beliefs etc... What kind of conflicts arise among these group of minds when it comes to making choices within an organization or a family or a community etc...

On a more technical side; the recommendation systems (like Amazon) are basically trying to influence your choice using point (2); where they define peers as people who have bought similar items that you have bought in the past - This is a very weak notion but given the limited amount of information about user's activity on the website and the privacy issues; it is not a bad start.... It would be interesting to see what your peers dont do or what people who are not your peers do or dont do?

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