Objectives have long been considered a basis for sound decision making. This research examines the ability of decision makers to generate self-relevant objectives for consequential decisions. In three empirical studies, participants consistently omitted nearly half of the objectives that they later identified as personally relevant. More surprisingly, omitted objectives were perceived to be almost as important as those generated by participants on their own. These empirical results were replicated in a real-world case study of strategic decision making at a high-tech firm. Overall, our research suggests that decision makers are considerably deficient in utilizing personal knowledge and values to form objectives for the decisions they face.
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