Decision-Making Study Guide

  Curriculum for ages 13-15

*If you’re 13-15 years old, review the content below to pass your Decision Making Quiz! 


Risk Taking and Decision Making

Risk-taking can impact decision-making in both positive and negative ways. Reflecting on past decisions in which you took a risk is a valuable step in learning to make better decisions. Some risks are acceptable and learning what constitutes an acceptable risk is easier to do when using the decision-making process. Consider the kinds of risks you can take on the golf course and the kinds of risks you can take in other parts of your life. It is important to think through all potential outcomes of the risks to determine which risks are acceptable.

Example 1 – Should I ‘go for it’?
You have a couple of options for a shot to take during your round of golf. Your coach has encouraged you to take risks for the potential reward but also encouraged you to take your time thinking about all of your options. When considering going for the green in two on a par 5, the best way to collect all of your necessary information is to go through the potential positive and negative consequences. You might not successfully make the shot and could end up making a bogey, but you would learn better how to take the shot next time.

Example 2 – How do I know what schools to apply to for college?
Taking risks on the golf course and seeing the consequences play out in front of you can be helpful for taking risks in real life as well. For example, your school only allows you to apply to 8 colleges or universities and you are debating whether or not you should add one more “safety” school or one more “reach” school. When deciding on whether or not to take this risk, consider the potential outcomes. Is this an acceptable risk? Another safety school gives you the peace of mind of somewhere to go after college. You can always try to transfer after a year of college-level work. On the other hand, you may end up getting into this reach school and find yourself at a fantastic university with a more valuable degree.

Consequences and Decision-Making

Personal values, social conventions, and risk-taking are related to the consequences of decision-making. A consequence is described as ‘the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier.’ Consequences can be positive or negative. Some decisions result in one or the other and some result in both. Consider decisions you’ve made in the past and the consequences that ensued. Sometimes consequences are unexpected and other times, if you use the decision-making process, you and those you involve in your decision, can predict some consequences. Taking into account the people who will be affected by the consequences of your decision (either just you, or you and others) may change the decisions you make.

Example 1 – Knowing the Greens
Making a decision in golf is easier once you’ve practiced that particular situation before because you understand the positive and negative consequences. After playing the same green many times, you’ll know the speed and “break” of the green so you can make more putts. Consider your past experiences to think through the potential outcomes.

Example 2 – Should I participate in Bullying?
For real life decisions, your past experiences will be helpful in considering the positive and negative consequences. Whether or not a consequence is positive or negative depends on your personal values, relevant social conventions, and what you consider an acceptable risk. For example, many of the kids at school bully one girl consistently. It may be the social convention to go along with the crowd, but your own personal values tell you that bullying is mean. You know it may be risky to go against the crowd and that could be a negative consequence but since you consider being nice to others a personal value, the consequence of hurting another person’s feelings is worse. When determining the positive and negative consequences of a decision, the decision-making process is a helpful tool to go through.