Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A.O.C.: Zeroing in on Choices

Haley Scholar Reading Groups

By Danielle Hall

In the first section of chapter 6 of The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar addresses a few key phrases related to making better choices such as "zeroing in," "simplifying,” or "making a distinction between." She encourages us to think about how having less options often sets the tone for better and sometimes wiser decisions (192-93).

Iyengar's discussion of how skilled chess players consider “only the most viable tactics" in order to "plan multiple moves in advance with relatively little mental effort” resembles the old adage about “playing smarter, not harder” to win. Iyengar notes that “experts can simplify their own choices, which in turn allows them to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by more choice” (193). By contrast, novices need assistance simplifying choices.

Iyengar’s ideas might assist us in becoming more aware of how our respective fields of study lead us to develop expertise in eliminating excess options. What is one way that your major has prepared you to simplify choices or multiple alternatives? Why is the ability to simplify in that way important?

12 comments:

Joe Brown said...

I am in the pre-pharmacy cirriculum, which is a work intensive courseload. Having said that, it was imperative when I arrived at SIUE that I learned how to prioritize my responsibilities and obligations. I had to weigh gains and losses, to dealing with issues that appeared as if out of nowhere, to learn which tasks required work in the short term versus which ones required more work over time, and to learn the consequences of inaction. By going through that process, I have learned how to make better choices in general.

Denita Campbell said...

I am a special education major and it has helped me to eliminate excess options because one thing that you learn fast is to pick your battles. Education can be a real demanding field in aspects of time management, behaviors, classroom effectiveness, and etc. There is always alot going on at once and you as a educator have to be able to zone in or focus on the important aspect of your career. And for most educators that point is, what can I can do to ensure a positive learning environment for my students. Once you figure that out you pic the best strategy for you that works best for you in your classroom. This idea starts to branch off in other aspects of your life and you begin to zone in on the most important factor.

Maame A said...

My intended major of Biology/Medical Sciences has definitely helped me simplify my choices or multiple alternatives in many ways. Because my major is so vigorous, it plays a big part in when my choices consist of going out to parties or sitting around a lot. My intended major has also helped me make better choices when it comes to health since it is a healthcare profession. I do find myself exercising more or watching what I put in my body because I now know how it breaks down at the molecular level. I believe it is important to simplify in this way because with less choices, your mind isn't as blocked from what is really important.

LaToya Bond said...

I am a nursing major and the way my major has prepared me to simplify choices or multiple alternatives is by critically thinking. This ability is important because information becomes obsolete quickly and our profession is complex and being a senior I am currently at information overload, so being able to reason through problems and apply the knowledge that we are learning helps us, for example, problem solve when emergencies happen and instead of relying merely on facts because patients aren't as cut and dry as they teach so we have to know what to do when they don't present with the normal symptoms.

Jaimie Belen said...

I'm in the school of nursing and one way my major has helped me simplify things is by not doing what is 'right', but doing what the patients want to change/improve. This is important in my field because the patient must have a say in what he/she wants to improve and nurses have to put the wants on the top of the list. The nurses have to 'zone in' on PATIENT care and make their choices based on the patients wants and needs.

Hilary Conrad said...

My major is Health Education. The way my health classes have helped me make decisions is simple. Making the right choices in daily life can ultimately lead to living a longer, healthier life. Every action we take can either have a positive or negative effect on your life. I have learned healthier ways to live my life.

Anonymous said...

In the Buiness world to make a good impression, you really have to do your research before speaking with a company. During the business fair last year I went in not doing in research about the companies and found out information as I walked up to the different booths. It was good for the experience but I really didn't leave an impression because it let them do most of the talking. I found my self hearing multiple times the same speech as the person before me or hearing the phrase "well like I just said before...", this led me to realize I had not left any type of impression. This year I did my research about specific companies that I found interesting and impressed them with what I knew. By limiting and focusing my attention on a few companies I was able to leave a better impression this time around. They knew and remembered me because they didn't have to give me the same speech they gave to everyone else they came in contact with at the fair.
By doing that I was able to leave with promising leads and interviews for an internship.
-Dino Anagbogu

Shawn C. said...

I am a senior with a major in Biomedical sciences, and this major is one in which it is mandatory to prioritize alternatives. Without the ability to prioritize between various choices, it would seem nearly impossible to succeed. The work that i put into my schooling on a daily basis hinges off of the choices I make about what is the highest priority to get done for the day, and what I can put off just a little longer. The ability to make decisions is important to the effect that I will not only be prepared to handle choices in my future career, but I will be able to be confident in the choices I ultimately make.

robertb said...

As a student of philosophy I've found there to be relief from constantly having to make decisions. Philosophy allows me to focus on issues that are relevant to living a good life. Major ideas such as morality, justice, and utility are brought to a new meaning. Any option that contradicts these values can be immediately removed from my decision and then I have a smaller, and better field of options.

Tia Baptist said...

I am a nursing major and this major has definitely taught me about simplifying my options. We as nurses have to narrow down options to come up with the best outcome for our patient. I use this in life to help me decide on what options are best for me. I try to first figure out which will benefit me most and give me the best the outcome. Simplifying my options helps with my anxiety and stress level cause then i can make better choices without feeling like there are too many. Since my life involves a lot of multiple tasks at once then I am able to narrow down my load and figure out what needs to get done first and most important. Prioritizing is the KEY!

Alexis Cortes said...

I'm a mass communications major, which means I can choose to focus on print and electronic journalism, media advertising, television and radio, or corporate and institutional media. Iyengar would agree that this is a reasonable number of choices and SIUE even requires me to try out a class in a couple of these specialities before the final decision. Because of this, I have discovered my strengths and weakness in my field of choice. The mass communications department has helped me narrow down my choice because I realized I'm pretty good at writing for print and electronic journlism and I really enjoy it. Between my journalism classes and working at the Alestle, I have been refining my writing style as well. There are so many different possible directions to take a story and I've learned in the classroom and from experience how to pick out the most interesting information. At first journalism can be a little overwhelming in this way. You have all of this information and you have to organize it in a meaningful way so that people will want to read it. It is extremely important to be able to take all of that and simply it, focus it, and go with it to create a thorough, but concise story, which is what my major is preparing me to do.


Alexis Cortes

Robin Caffey said...

I am an accounting major and this major has helped me simplify my choices because it requires me to be very analytical when making decisions.I have learned to weigh the opportunity cost of my options in order to make the most productive decision possible. This is very important in my career because if I can't help my company make the best decisions possible then I will be out of a job. This is important in my life because the decisions I make today will effect where I end up tommorrow.