Effects of Proactive Decision Making On Life Satisfaction


Siebert, Johannes U.; Kunz, Reinhard, Rolf, Philipp. “Effects of Proactive Decision Making on Life Satisfaction”, European Journal of Operational Research, 280(1) 2020, 1171-1187,  doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2019.08.0111)

Proactive decision making, a concept recently introduced to behavioural operational research and decision analysis, addresses effective decision making during its phase of generating alternatives. It is measured on a scale comprising six dimensions grouped into two categories: proactive personality traits and proactive cognitive skills. Personality traits are grounded on such theoretical constructs as a proactive attitude and proactive behaviour; cognitive skills reflect value-focused thinking and decision quality. These traits and skills have been used to explain decision satisfaction, although their antecedents and other consequences have not yet been the subject of rigorous hypotheses and testing.

This paper embeds proactive decision making within a model of three possible consequences. We consider—and empirically test—decision satisfaction, general self-efficacy, and life satisfaction by conducting three studies with 1,300 participants. We then apply structural equation modelling to show that proactive decision making helps account for life satisfaction, an explanation mediated by general self-efficacy and decision satisfaction. Thus proactive decision making fosters greater belief in one’s abilities and increases satisfaction with one’s decisions and with life more generally. These results imply that it is worthwhile to help individuals enhance their decision-making proactivity.

Demonstrating the positive effects of proactive decision making at the individual level underscores how important is the phase of generating alternatives, and it also highlights the merit of employing “decision quality” principles and being proactive during that phase. Hence the findings presented here confirm the relevance of OR, and of decision-analytic principles, to the lives of ordinary people.

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