DM1- Decision-Making Style

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The purpose of this Action Guide is to understand how you make decisions and apply that understanding to your major search.


Making decisions, and how we decide what to do next, affects the quality of our personal and professional lives. Flexibility in decision-making styles has been shown to both strengthen personal relationships and serve as a hallmark of successful students.


Complete the exercise below.  If you would like type or draw out your responses, you may use DrawIsland (, Word or the drawing tool of your choice; save the file and upload it below.

Decision Making Styles

  1. A Systematic person will firmly establish a goal and will not be easily swayed from reaching the goal or decision. He or she will weigh alternative choices for a decision in a logical manner. Systematics prefer to focus in on the component parts of a decision, and once they have made a choice, they will not easily change their minds.
  2. A Spontaneous person will move quickly from one goal to another depending on how it "feels." These people use a thought chaining process, in contrast to the logical approach of the Systematic. The Spontaneous will react globally to a situation, rarely focusing on the components of the situation. Goals will change rapidly.
  3. An Internal person will need to "think about it." Those with this style prefer to turn inward to make a final decision. If pressured to decide before they have enough time, they will become confused or irritated.
  4. An External person will need to think aloud. Externals will not be certain of a decision unless they have had the opportunity to talk about it. In fact, Externals have a need to hear their words in order to make sense of them.

Think about a time when you had to make an important decision and were successful in doing so. For example, a big decision may have been choosing to attend the U of M, pursuing a hobby, or even purchasing an iPhone. Write down what the decision was in the form below, and then answer the questions that follow.

Printable Version

DM1: Decision-Making Style

Adapted from: Gordon, V.N., & Sears, S.J. (2010). Selecting a College Major: Exploration and Decision Making. (6th edition). Columbus, OH: Pearson.