Reflective Decision-Making in Psychology


Reflective decision making is the process of making judgments based on the knowledge and past experiences possessed by an individual (Griffin, 2007).It involves processes such as contemplation and critical thinking. In addition, it also encompasses assessment and serious mediations. Essentially, reflective decision making is opposed to action decision making. Reflective decision makers are not highly time conscious but instead they focus on the necessity of making the right decision (Fitzgerald & Ayson, 2012).

The key elements of reflective decision making includes exploring predicaments and seeking for solutions, taking expectations and values into consideration and taking charge of personal professional improvement. Other elements include paying attention to the cultures and institutions in the surrounding of an individual as well as enthusiastically taking part in change of systems (Beach, 1996).

Reflective decision making can be applied in different areas such as undergraduate and post graduate education, professions, different ages, and courses. In this assessment, appropriate academic theories, models and frameworks are used to identify the issues that arose from a typical decision that was made in a work place. The decision never resulted in a positive outcome. This is a critical provision when considered comprehensively in regard to decision making.

Reflection of decision making situation

The work place environment for this assessment work is a manufacturing workshop for a company that specializes in making bolts and nuts. There were 20 casual laborers that were employed to work on different machineries. According to industrial safety regulations, all the employees working in a workshop are required to have a safety protection gear while on duty. The safety protection gear includes gloves, overall, boots and helmet. The company provided all these requirements except hand gloves. Handling sharp metals is risky on a bare hand.

Several employees got cuts while on duty. The management of the company was reluctant in getting hand gloves for its employees despite frequent appeals made. Therefore, the decision that was made involved incitement of the casual workers to boycott duty in order to compel the management to provide hand gloves for the employees. Although the original idea was to boycott duty peacefully, some casual laborers resorted to destruction of property. Eventually, this resulted into termination of responsibility as the supervisor of the engineering workshop.

Using academic theories, models and frameworks to identify relevant decision making issues – Using decision making and problem solving

Problem-solving judgments involve a seven step procedure that serve as an effective tool in making appropriate decisions promptly. The mentioned seven steps involve; identification of the problem, collecting much information about the problem based on facts and assumptions, development of various solutions to the problem, examining and comparing different alternative solutions to the problem, making decisions based on the best alternative selected, making a plan for execution and finally applying the plan (Hicks, 2004).

While analyzing the decision made earlier in the company, the mentioned seven steps of problem solving were hardly observed. Even though the problem was identified initially, no attempts were made to gather as much information as possible about the problem. This implies that there could have been facts and assumptions that were ignored. Information could have been gathered from relevant people who are managing the company, the workers and even the relevant agencies that operate outside the company. The assumption that was made during the decision making, that the management were reluctant to get hand gloves, could have been true or false based on the information that could have been gathered.

Another aspect of the decision making process that was ignored was the development of alternative solutions. Based on the information that could have been gathered, alternative solution to the problem could have been developed. According to Aldair (2010) brainstorming is a good technique for developing an alternative solution to the problem. In addition, brainstorming allows time to make the right kind of decision. As indicated in the previous decision made by the management.

No any alternative solution to the problem was developed. Creating several alternative solutions to the problem, assist in comparingdifferent options and eventually coming up with the best solution. Proper analysis of the decision made reveal that decision was made steered by emotions which is not the right method of making decisions. Probably a different alternative solution could have been used rather than the original decision.

Proper decision making procedure should involve gathering enough information, developing them, evaluating, and comparing different alternative solutions to the problem. Instincts and feelings should be taken into consideration to come up with the best solution to the problem. This should be followed by proper planning and execution of the decision to solve the problem. However, these steps were not involved in making the decision. This resulted in poor decision which resulted to termination of duty.

Analysis of the decision using the psychology of decision making theory

According to Beach and Connolly (2005), psychology of rational decision making involves both the descriptive and normative decision making theories. These theories have different features and follow particular procedures in making the right decision. Normative theory takes significant axioms into consideration while decision is being made. If an individual acknowledges these conventional values, then he or she can develop any kind of normative theory that he prefers. Conversely, descriptive theory of making of decisions focuses on the significance of psychological elements and how they impact on the decision making process. While descriptive models involve perception in clarifying the decision making process, normative theories includes the rational constituents that point out how a particular decision should be made.

While an individual is making decisions based on rational decision models, he or she first investigates several alternative solutions to the problem before coming up with the best decision. The alternatives can be considered depending on the scenario that is likely to be experienced as a consequence of the decision made. Even though different circumstances are considered by the possibilities, an individual making the decision can be able to predict the likely impact of each and every alternative. The ultimate option for the course of action will be based on the alternative that can result into the best possible consequence (Shanks, 2007).

Using this model to analyze the decision made, improper decision was made because different alternatives were not considered as required in this model. Although, the decision to boycott duty was expected to possibly cause negative scenario, no responsibility was taken by the decision maker to consider other options.The assumption that is taken while using this model is that the decision maker is aware of the possible outcomes of the kind of the decision he or she is making. Therefore, proper and rational decision should be made only if an individual considers that the decision will have the best outcome (Adair, 2010).

If this fact was taken into consideration before making the decision, appropriate solution to the problem could have been developed. Possible consequences such as termination of duty as well as destruction of properties could have been perceived early enough before making of decisions. The normative theory of decision making describes how an individual makes use of different alternatives in solving a problem. These two models are very effective in helping to make the most appropriate decision in a particular situation.

How these issues could have been dealt with based on current knowledge

Based on the different models discussed, the right decision process would be considered. At the onset, the problem would be identified accurately. The problem could be identified as unavailability of hand gloves in the workshop. The causes of the problem would be analyzed carefully to understand the problem completely. All relevant information would be gathered from different sources. For instance, the information about the position of the management with regard to this crisis, when and how the management of the company would be planning to acquire this equipment, cost of the equipment, other alternatives to using the equipment, the feelings of the laborers towards the crisis and the labor laws and regulations concerning this crisis.

After gathering adequate information, different course of action would be considered. At this stage, both the benefits and the disadvantages of each and every decision to be made would be analyzed. In addition, various stakeholders such as the casual laborers, the management and different agency representatives would be involved to identify appropriate courses of actions. The advantage of involving stakeholders in developing a course of action is that they are likely to support the execution of the plan for the particular action they recommended (Schunk & Zimmerman, 1998). Besides, this technique will really help in increasing the interest in the particular problem.

The decision will then be made taking into consideration personal feelings and emotions. However, the decision made will be based on rational thinking as well as the kind of outcome expected. Only right decision that will result into the best outcome will be considered. Then a plan would be developed. The plan would have to involve specific things to be done, which people to execute them and at what time they should be done. For instance, if the decision is made to hold a consultative forum, the plan would be where it is to take place, at what time and who is to attend. Contingencies will also be developed. It is important that flexibility is also allowed as it may be necessary from time to time. The plan would then be executed and evaluated if the desired result would be achieved.


Decision making is very important in an individual not only in work place but in any kind of an environment. Emotions should not compel an individual into making wrong decisions in any kind of situation. As observed from the academic theories that have been discussed, proper decision making process involves; careful analysis of the problem, gathering as much information as possible about the problem, developing various course of actions that can be taken, analyzing different alternatives, selecting the best course of action then planning and executing the option appropriately.


Adair, J. (2010). Decision Making and Problem Solving Strategies. London: Kogan Page Publishers.

Beach, L. (1996). Decision Making in the Workplace: A Unified Perspective. New York, NY: Routledge.

Connolly, M. & Beach, L. (2005). The Psychology of Decision Making: People in Organizations, California, CA: SAGE.

Fitzgerald, M. & Ayson, S. (2012). Managing under uncertainty: a qualitative approach to decision making, Sydney: Pearson.

Griffin, R. (2007). Fundamentals of Management. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

Hicks, M. (2004). Problem Solving and Decision Making: Hard, Soft and Creative Approaches. New York, NY: Cengage Learning EMEA.

Schunk, D & Zimmerman, B. (1998). Self-Regulated Learning: From Teaching to Self-Reflective Practice. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Shanks, N. (2007). Straight Choices: The Psychology of Decision Making. New York, NY: Routledge.

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