Making Decisions with Intuitive Confidence

Have you ever wondered how you make your decisions, and how the decision-making process actually happens in your mind? Let’s say, you are facing a problem with two potential solutions A and B. What happens in your brain when you prefer one solution over another. For example, if you are losing confidence in Solution A and you are gaining more and more confidence in Solution B at the same time, until you are convinced that Solution B will solve your problem. How does this process happen? Is it a linear process? Are you gaining confidence in Solution B to the same extent as you are losing confidence in Solution A? From the following paper I just published one can argue that this is not the case:


Detecting Disease in Radiographs with Intuitive Confidence
Stefan Jaeger, “Detecting Disease in Radiographs with Intuitive Confidence,” The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2015, Article ID 946793, 9 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/946793


In fact, from the paper one can conclude that changing one’s mind from A to B happens in three phases. In the first phase, one quickly gains confidence in B while only slowly losing confidence in A. During the second phase, confidence in A is lost to the same extent as confidence is gained in B. Finally, in the third phase, the remaining confidence in A is quickly lost while only a small confidence in B is still being gained. The paper shows that these three phases can be explained mathematically by following a sector on a circle.


Now, what implications does this have for everyday decision making? Well, the three phases are the natural, or intuitive way of building up confidence in a decision. Any communication, either between humans or between humans and machines, violating this process will cause communication problems and stress. For example, in order to switch your standpoint, patience may be needed, as the confidence in established approaches or opinions only slowly degrades in favor of new and better solutions. On the other hand, once a certain confidence level is reached, changing opinions or accepting new solutions can happen very quickly. This conclusion may not sound as new information to some, but having a mathematical model for this process allows a scientific approach.The paper also provides an example of how a machine can output proper confidence, meaning intuitive for humans, in its automatic detection of lung disease for computer-added diagnostics.