A Checks and Balances Approach to Improving Institutional Decision-Making

Abstract. A solution for improving institutional decision-making, so that motivated reasoning does not influence the decision-making process, is presented. The solution involves the use of a committee, that will serve as the vehicle for determining whether a decision made by an institution was influenced by motivated reasoning.

Motivated reasoning is a form of bias in which individuals arrive at conclusions based on their own subjective impressions. This is a major problem facing institutions like governments and corporations that carry out decision-making duties. Decisions influenced by motivated reasoning could lead to major errors in judgement, which then potentially results in negative consequences for members of society. The lives of many people from society being affected by the miscalculated assessment of a few, can seem very unjust.

A proposed solution to possibly countering motivated reasoning is a checks and balances type of system; a system in which a committee of non-partisan individuals could proctor whether a decision made by an institution was influenced by motivated reasoning. The members of this committee obviously need to be well versed in the issues(s) pertaining to the institution’s decision, and they should not be beholden to any special interest groups. The non-partisan nature of the committee would ensure that there is no bias in proctoring the institution’s decision.

In the trivial case that motivated reasoning has not played a role in the institution’s decision-making, the proctoring committee could simply approve the decision for going forward. If motivated reasoning played a role in the decision-making process on the other hand, then the members of the committee have the authority to override the decision made by the institution. The institution would have to then make modifications to the decision that they made. After making these modifications, the proctoring committee will have to again review the decision to make sure that there is no bias.

The non-partisan committee could use a ledger for keeping a record of all the decisions that they have had to proctor for the institution. For each decision made by the institution, they (the institution) can be allotted a fixed number of chances to revise that decision based on whether motivated reasoning contributed to that decision. If the institution made a decision (on one issue) involving no motivated reasoning in its first go, then they could be rewarded with an extra revision chance for the next issue they make a decision on and present to the committee. Failure to avoid motivated reasoning on a given decision will result in no extra revision chance for the next issue they make a decision on. In the case that the institution fails to avoid motivated reasoning on all of its allotted chances, then the proctoring committee would have to make the final decision on the issue.