Decision-making ability

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Decision-making ability is the ability of living beings or groups or institutions (e.g. communities) to act consciously (to make a decision) in a certain situation . A decision presupposes the possibility of choosing between two or more alternatives (possibly between acting and willful omission). If a person refuses to make a decision, he or she may still be able to make a decision (even a refusal of a decision is often the result of a decision).

The term decision-making authority is sometimes used in the same general sense. However, it can also relate to certain aspects of the ability to make decisions, in particular the right to make a decision.

Conceptual environment

Decision-making ability (decision-making competence) is related to:

  • Freedom of choice (see also free will )
  • Decisiveness
  • Willingness to make decisions (willingness to make decisions)
  • the decision-making authority
  • the availability and utilization of information as a basis for decision-making
  • Judgment (this depends on the correctness or quality of the decision)
  • Ability to act (but even those who are unable to act can make decisions)

Increase in decision-making ability

Personnel (e.g. consultants , counseling ) or technical measures ( computers ) can increase the willingness to make decisions or the ability to make decisions, which usually also leads to faster decisions.

In the political field, in the case of very controversial issues, a citizen survey or a referendum can improve the decision-making ability or even establish it in the first place.

In the military sector, there is an ever increasing “amalgamation of man with machine” (weapon). The ability to make decisions and the speed of decision-making can be improved through further developed information technologies and human-machine interfaces (e.g. head-up display ).

Limited ability to make decisions

If the ability to make decisions is limited (reduced, disabled), this can already refer to the collection and utilization of information (insight and judgment), i.e. in advance of a decision, or the ability to make the “correct” decision according to the law to meet (this often refers to a third person as a yardstick for how they would have decided).

If the ability to make decisions is limited in certain areas, a legal representative (e.g. supervisor , adult representative , curator , trustee , guardian , etc.) can be appointed for natural or legal persons who is the "right" one for the person concerned (according to the majority opinion) Should make a decision. In this situation, in which the ability to make decisions is wholly or partially transferred to another person through legal compulsion, the person concerned usually relinquishes the ability to make decisions involuntarily.

In anankastischer (compulsive) personality disorder may by various circumstances such. B. Feelings of doubt, perfectionism , excessive conscientiousness, constant controls , generally great caution and rigidity in thought and action, which shows up as inflexibility, pedantry and rigidity due to the excessive preoccupation with details and rules, so that the actual activity often becomes in the background comes to a hindrance of decision-making ability. The fear of making mistakes also hinders the decision-making ability of those affected.

Task of decision-making ability

The ability to make decisions can be given up voluntarily or involuntarily, in whole or in part. This is regularly done by taking away alternative options. The ability to make decisions is involuntarily relinquished when a living being is prevented by internal or external influences from making decisions by itself. This can e.g. Through illness, placement, or physical action (e.g. deprivation of liberty , truth serum , etc.). The ability to make decisions is voluntarily given up if someone is prepared to accept a decision of one or more other living beings or a machine (e.g. computer) instead of their own decision instead of their own decision and to accept it against them (external decision).

The path and the boundary between voluntary and involuntary giving up the ability to make decisions is fluid and can also shift (see also: manipulation through advertising).

Inability to make decisions

In the case of persons, groups or institutions, there may be a factual, wanted or unwanted inability to make decisions. For individuals, this can also be due to psychological reasons. In a group or institution, for example, a stalemate in voting or resistance (obstruction) can lead to an inability to make decisions (see also filibuster ).

Decision-making ability in law

The ability to make decisions is understood more comprehensively in the field of law. This includes, for example, the ability of a person to understand and weigh up the facts about a decision, especially with regard to the consequences of the choice, i.e. which option has advantages over another, or what effects the decision has to do nothing. It is partly understood to include the ability to discern and judge.

Legal Obligations

According to the eighth book of the Social Security Code (Child and Youth Welfare Act), Section 14, young people must be enabled to protect themselves from harmful influences; these are to be used for critical ability, decision-making ability and personal responsibility as well as responsibility towards their fellow human beings (so-called: educational child and youth protection). See also § 1 of the School Act for Baden-Württemberg or Article 1 of the Adult Education and Promotion Act (EbföG) of 1974 (Bavaria).

Justice, authorities

In the area of judicial and administrative authorities is clear from the decision authority (which the legislator or public authority conferred authority in the appropriate cases for the parties to make binding decisions to adopt ( judgment , decision , available , knowledge , etc.)), the decision-making ability.

Decisions made by a person who was not authorized to do so (lack of / lack of formal decision-making ability) are usually absolutely void , even if this person was able to make decisions.


  • Werner Hugger: Scope of action and decision-making ability of the political-administrative system of the Federal Republic of Germany: examined using the example of the health care system. Speyer 1979, Verlag Speyer, Research Institute for Public Administration at the University of Administrative Sciences.
  • Christof Schulz-Wistokat: Democracy and rational decision-making ability in the theory of collective decisions. Göttingen 1996, Verlag Göttingen, dissertation, ISBN 978-3-89588-404-7 .
  • Viola Alankuş: Determining the decision-making ability of patients with dementia. Düsseldorf 2009, dissertation (dissertation).
  • Chengwu Wang: Decision-making ability in sport-related risk situations: Studies on a concept of sport-related risk capacity in volleyball and handball. Hildesheim 1994, university thesis (dissertation).

Individual evidence

  1. See e.g. B .: Scott Gissendammer: The importance of the mayor for the strategic decision-making ability of major German cities. In Jörg Bogumil: Local decision-making processes in transition: Theoretical and empirical analyzes. Leske and Budrich, Opladen 2002, ISBN 978-3-8100-3425-0 .
  2. See e.g. B. Information Sheet on Decision-making Assessment in Alberta , Canada .