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Usable Social Science$
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Neil J. Smelser and Bob Adamson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780520273566

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520273566.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

How Decisions Are Made

How Decisions Are Made

(p.151) 5 How Decisions Are Made
Usable Social Science

Neil J. Smelser

John S. Reed

University of California Press

The social-scientific preoccupation with decision making is interpreted, in part, as reflecting an American cultural emphasis on instrumentalism. Its confusion of meanings as a distinct phenomenon is noted, and several different traditions of research are identified—rationality, the behavioral-descriptive approach, incrementalism, and “garbage can”—which have produced some disarray in the concept of decision making. The authors identify the “framing” of decisions as an especially usable concept. The last part of the chapter is dedicated to scholarly literatures on American presidential decision making; decision making in medical arenas; the process of decision making in “naturalistic settings,” usually dealing with crises and emergencies; and “groupthink,” a social-psychological process that frequently impairs objective, fact-based, contingent decisions.

Keywords:   theories of decision making, garbage-can model, groupthink, incrementalism, medical decision making, naturalistic decision making, presidential decision making

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