Getting Clear: Understanding the Different Types of Choices
We all face moments where we must choose between one thing and another. We need to choose things every day, but we don't seem to know much about the different types of choices that we face. It would help us to know more about the different types of choices; then we can see that some choices are hardly choices at all.
Win-win or win-lose
We're probably already familiar with types of choices. For example, most people are familiar with choices that are set up to be either win-win or win-lose. In win-win choices, everybody affected by the choice gains from the outcome. In a win-lose choice, some win and others lose. We generally see win-win choices as being more preferable than win-lose choices. However, that's not always true when we don't want the other person to win. At these times, we're more likely to actually want win-lose choices (where we are the winner).
Types of choices
In a recent article, Lifehacker also made some interesting distinctions between types of choices. Getting familiar with these types of choices can help us understand exactly what you're up against.
Firstly, a Dilemma is a type of choice. While we may use this word to describe any sort of choice and its outcomes, it really represents a choice where we have two outcomes but both of them are equally unwelcome. Our task here is to then choose between one of these unpleasant outcomes. As an example, a dilemma would be where you need to drive home in exceptionally heavy traffic, knowing that whatever choice of route you make, it's going to take a long time. Sometimes, there are no good choices.
A Hobson's Choice
Secondly, a Hobson's Choice is a choice where we get a choice between one thing or nothing. This terminology is typically applied where the thing we are offered is not what we really wanted. An example of a Hobson's Choice would be arriving home late and having a choice between unappealing food or no food at all.
A Sophie's Choice
Thirdly, Sophie's Choice is a moral choice. We have to make a choice between two desirable things, knowing that once we had chosen, we can never choose the other thing as well. The original meaning referred to a tragic movie, so this type of choosing has a connotation of being a very hard choice with tragic consequences. However, the same sort of choice can arise in everyday situations. If two friends invited us to their weddings at the same time on the same day, that would be a Sophie's Choice.
A Morton's Fork
Fourthly, a Morton's Fork is really a logical fallacy. Even though it might appear that you get a choice, either action that you take leads to the same bad outcome. For example, a student who procrastinates for too long before doing a major assignment still ends up having the same amount of time do the assignment, no matter what they did to procrastinate. The activities that they choose between to procrastinate are a Morton's Fork.
It's also important to mention here that choosing is not simple. The choices that are offered to you may not be all of the possible choices that you can make. Other possible choices might appear if you think about the problem longer.
Take the first example, you could avoid the heavy traffic by waiting around before you depart. In the second example, you could choose to eat out before you went home. In the third example, you could choose to go to neither wedding, and in the fourth example you might be able to avoid procrastination.
Whenever we are faced with a problem that looks like a choice between different things, it's useful to know what sort of choice were actually facing. Secondly, it's also good for us to know exactly what choices are open to us in the understanding that they might be broader and wider than we think they are.
It's also important to understand that failure isn't such a bad thing, as it essential to building our resilience.
Counselling can be a good way to get some help with making choices. By talking to an independent person who isn't connected to the situation, you can get a sense of clarity. These include understanding what you really want, what the options really are, and to understand the consequences of choosing.
I'd be interested in what you thought in the comments. Now, read about how hope is not a plan.