August 25th 2021

Learning to decide wisely and becoming happy

Learning to decide wisely and becoming happy

People who make smart decisions in important private and professional matters increase their chances of greater life satisfaction. The cognitive skills required for this can be significantly honed through training. This is the conclusion reached by researchers at the University of Bayreuth in recent empirical studies published in tan international leading journal, the European Journal of Operational Research. Courses lasting several weeks with participants of different age and occupational groups demonstrably strengthened their ability to make well-considered choices in difficult decision-making situations. A summary of the research findings is provided in this video.

When cognitive skills that produce proactive, wise decision-making behaviour are too weak, wrong decisions are made, or more precisely, suboptimal courses of action are chosen. Not infrequently, this permanently impairs quality of life and life satisfaction. However, training courses that include both basic knowledge and practical exercises can significantly improve decision-making behaviour - precisely by strengthening cognitive skills. These include, above all, the cognitive skills to approach decision-making situations proactively and with foresight, to gain clarity about one's own goals, to identify promising options, and to make the best possible choice by weighing them carefully. This is what a research team led by Johannes Siebert has discovered over several years of work.

Training, however, cannot change personality traits, which - in addition to cognitive skills - also have a significant influence on decision-making behaviour. "Dispositions that are effective in the long term, such as striving for self-optimization or an attitude toward life that takes initiative, obviously cannot be formed within a few weeks or months as a result of training courses," explains Siebert, who completed his habilitation in Bayreuth and is currently researching and teaching at MCI | The Entrepreneurial School® .

In a previous study, the Innsbruck researchers were able to demonstrate that smart, proactive decision-making behaviour can significantly promote life satisfaction. The decisive factor here is not only the skill to prudently evaluate and weigh up given options for action, but also the skill to independently discover further options or even create new ones. "Our studies clearly show that the extent to which we are satisfied with our lives by no means depends solely on circumstances outside our control. Proactive decision-making behaviour helps us to open up new and better options for action and thereby strengthens our own quality of life. Because we can specifically train the skills required for this, it is in our own hands whether we develop into satisfied people or not," says Philipp Rolf, Research Associate at the Production Management & Industrial Management research group at the University of Bayreuth.

The new findings on strengthening the cognitive characteristics that are important for good decision-making emerged from the scientific monitoring and evaluation of three courses that lasted several weeks. An online course on the quality of decisions was conducted in cooperation with a renowned U.S. university, a lecture on decision theory was held at a technical university in Germany, and courses at MCI | The Entrepreneurial School® in Austria focused on the systematic structuring and solving of decision-making situations. The more than 1,000 participants in total belonged to different age and professional groups, and thus represented a broad social spectrum. "All three courses demonstrably strengthened participants' ability to reach the right decisions through proactive and smart thinking - regardless of their age, gender, or occupation," says Siebert.

Research indicates that students in courses taught by Prof. Siebert at the Entrepreneurial School® not only learn to make more proactive decisions, but as a result are more satisfied with their lives. This is the best we can do for our students.

We cordially invite all interested parties to use this fascinating topic for proactive decision-making in our attractive study programs (BA Wirtschaft & Management for Professionals, BA Business & Management, and MA International Business & Management) as an impetus for your personal, academic development and to accelerate your professional career.


Johannes Ulrich Siebert, Reinhard E. Kunz, Philipp Rolf. Effects of decision training on individuals’ decision-making proactivity. European Journal of Operational Research (2021), DOI:

Johannes Ulrich Siebert, Reinhard E. Kunz, Philipp Rolf: Effects of proactive decision making on life satisfaction. European Journal of Operational Research (2020), 280, 1171-1187. DOI:


FH-Prof. PD Dr. habil. Johannes Siebert

MCI | The Entrepreneurial School®