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In the wider sense, decision making is embedded in the problem-solving process and its many stages (Davidson and Sternberg, 2003; Güss et al., 2010). In the narrow sense, decision making is understood as the ability to select one of several alternatives and to act accordingly (Güss 2004). Previous research has often focused on decision making in relatively predictable environments with clear goals (e.g., expected utility theory of von Neumann and Morgenstern, 1944). In recent decades the focus has been on decision making heuristics, i.e., strategies or rules of thumb, applied in uncertain situations (e.g., Tversky and Kahneman, 1974; Simon, 1979; Gigerenzer and Gaissmaier, 2011).

Causality plays an important role in many cognitive processes – and causal cognition is itself influenced by culture (e.g., Norenzayan and Nisbett, 2000; Medin and Atran, 2004; Beller et al., 2009; Bender and Beller, 2011; for a controversial discussion of causal cognition, see Sperber et al., 1995). Causality is especially important during the decision-making process, because the decision maker has to predict what consequences specific decisions bring about before making a decision.


Originally published in Frontiers in Psychology 5:479

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