Decision-making is a far from haphazard process. Consider the problem of deciding where to go for a belated holiday sometime after Christmas. First of all, as much information as possible has to be collected about alternative places, costs and dates. The various travel agents’ brochures will undoubtedly provide a considerable amount of factual (or semi-factual!) data which may form a starting point for making the decision; but a number of other sources, including television programmes and hearsay from friends, relatives or colleagues, may also be used to give supplementary detail. The extent to which such information is readily available will, in large measure, influence the decision at the outset. In places where complete information about the alternatives is available, any individual should be able to make a better decision than he would be able to make in places where only partial knowledge can be obtained. Additionally, the way in which the information is searched and learnt may also affect the decision being made. After reading three or four of the travel brochures, the intending holidaymaker may well decide either that he has not enough time to go through all the other brochures or that he has already found one place at the right price that will do. The order of search may well, therefore, be important in determining the outcome of the decision. Having searched the available information, there may well be several alternative propositions that seem attractive, and in order to decide which one of these to choose, the list has to be organised into a series of preferences.
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