Biases in Decision Making

Program Overview

Researchers have identified hundreds of cognitive biases that routinely limit rational thinking, distort behavior, and derail decisions. It's a common human tendency to rely on them because they feel comfortable and help us to resolve issues quickly. But in an uncertain environment, quality decisions are critical. And an important key to better decision-making is learning to avoid biases.

Biases in Decision Making explores six categories of errors that are responsible for poor decisions. The program provides participants with techniques for identifying decision traps, avoiding them, and arriving at better decisions for both individuals and teams.

Professor Barbara Mellers on Biases in Decision Making.

Academic Director Barbara Mellers explains how Biases in Decision Making provides a six-category framework for thinking about decision biases.

Program Experience

Program Highlights & Benefits

In Biases in Decision Making, you will learn how to:

  • Detect and minimize biases and fallacies in reasoning
  • Recognize biases by developing better mental habits
  • Make decisions that create value rather than leave it on the table
  • Understand both the drawbacks and benefits of group dynamics
  • Develop a personal action plan for mitigating or even preventing biases and fallacies in decision making

Professor Barbara Mellers on overconfidence in decision making

Experience & Impact

Led by Wharton decision scientist Barbara Mellers, and offered in partnership with management consulting firm Strategic Decisions Group (SDG), the program begins with an introduction to decision biases that can derail clear thinking. Participants will learn the key elements of decision quality (DQ) and understand how to evaluate the quality of their own decisions. They will also learn how biases can cause value to be left on the table, and how to close the “DQ opportunity gap.”

As the program progresses, each category of biases will be explored in depth. For example, participants learn how, in a group or team setting, biases that are inherent in social interactions can make us believe that consensus equals quality decisions.

Using a blend of lectures, discussions, demonstrations, and workshops, the program encourages immediate application to current business situations. Participants will identify the decision errors that are most detrimental to themselves and their organizations, and learn multiple techniques for anticipating, preventing, and even eliminating their effects.

Session topics include:

  • Moving Beyond “Good Enough”: Improving Decision Quality
  • Understanding Cognitive Biases
  • Overcoming Overly Positive Mindsets
  • Confronting Comfort Zones
  • Building Awareness of Automatic Associations
  • Challenging the Status Quo
  • Making Decisions in Complex Settings and Under Uncertainty
  • Improving Group Decisions

Biases in Decision Making is part of the Strategic Decision and Risk Management Certificate (SDRM) offered in partnership with SDG. To learn more on how to apply this program toward a certificate, contact the SDRM client relations team, Patty Harris or Kristen Pratt, at +1.650.475.4300 or

Who Should Attend

Biases in Decision Making is designed for leaders who frequently make decisions with long time horizons, substantial uncertainty, significant investment of resources, and/or high organizational conflict. In addition, professionals who support organizational decision making processes will also benefit from this program.

Fluency in English, written and spoken, is required for participation in Wharton executive education programs unless otherwise indicated.


Barbara Mellers, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Academic Director

I. George Heyman University Professor; Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School; Professor of Psychology, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

Carl Spetzler, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Program Faculty, Wharton Executive Education and SDG Strategic Decision and Risk Management Certificate Program; Chairman and CEO, Strategic Decisions Group

Dates, Cost, & Location

Session Information TBD

Download the program schedule, including session details.

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