Mental Ability We know people with higher levels of mental ability are able to process information more quickly, solve problems more accurately, and learn faster, so you might expect them also to be less susceptible to common deci- sion errors. However, mental ability appears to help people avoid only some of these. 74 Smart people are just as likely to fall prey to anchoring, overconfidence, and escalation of commitment, probably because just being smart doesn’t alert you to the possibility you’re too confident or emotionally defensive. That doesn’t mean intelligence never matters. Once warned about decision-making errors, more intelligent people learn more quickly to avoid them. They are also better able to avoid logical errors like false syllogisms or incorrect interpretation of data. Cultural Differences The rational model makes no acknowledgment of cultural differences, nor does the bulk of OB research literature on decision making.
But Indonesians, for instance, don’t necessarily make decisions the same way Australians do. Therefore, we need to recognize that the cultural background of a decision maker can significantly influence the selection of problems, the depth of analysis, the importance placed on logic and rationality, and whether organizational decisions should be made autocratically by an individual man- ager or collectively in groups. 75 Cultures differ in their time orientation, the importance of rationality, their belief in the ability of people to solve problems, and their preference for col- lective decision making. Differences in time orientation help us understand why managers in Egypt make decisions at a much slower and more deliberate pace than their U.S. counterparts. While rationality is valued in North America, that’s not true elsewhere in the world.