How Decisions Happen: Focal Points and Blind Spots in Interdependent Decision Making Mar 24, 2013 By Eileen ChouNir Halevy How Decisions Happen: Focal Points and Blind Spots in Interdependent Decision Making How Decisions Happen: Focal Points and Blind Spots in Interdependent Decision Making Decision makers often simplify decision problems by ignoring readily available information. The current multimethod research investigated which types of information about interdependence situations are psychologically prominent to decision makers and which tend to go unnoticed. Study 1 used eye-tracking measures to investigate how decision makers allocate their attention in interdependence situations and revealed that individuals fixated on mutual cooperation earlier and longer as compared with alternative combinations of strategies and outcomes. In addition, participants’ behavioral cooperation was consistent with their attention allocation. Study 2 introduced a novel information-search paradigm: Participants exchanged yes/no questions and answers to discover which of 25 different games their counterpart chose. Analyzing the contents of participants’ questions showed that, consistent with Study 1, participants focused primarily on desirable outcomes and symmetric behavioral choices. Study 3 revealed that outcome desirability is a robust basis of psychological prominence across different types of social relations; in contrast, the psychological prominence of symmetry was moderated by the nature of social relations. Study 4 revealed that whether different bases of psychological prominence directed individuals’ attention to the same aspects of the decision-making task moderated the effect of information availability on decision latency and cooperation rates. Taken together, these findings contribute to the mapping of bounded rationality, demonstrate how people think about their interdependence, and enhance our understanding of how decisions happen. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Eileen Chou Chou’s research focuses on the organizational, social, and psychological forces that shape individual and group behavior in organizational settings. Read full bio Nir Halevy Related Content Eileen Chou The Goldilocks Contract: The Synergistic Benefits of Combining Structure and Autonomy for Persistence, Creativity, and Cooperation Research Contracts are commonly used to regulate a wide range of interactions and relationships. Yet relying on contracts as a mechanism of control often comes at a cost to motivation. Safety in Numbers: Why the Mere Physical Presence of Others Affects Risk‐taking Behaviors Research As social mammals, being in a group signals a state of relative security. Risk‐taking behavior in other social mammals formed the basis for our prediction that the mere physical presence of others, absent any social interaction, would create a psychological state of security that, in turn, would promote greater risk‐taking behavior.