Choosing Knowledgeably and Choosing by Default

Table of Content

            People make many choices and decisions in their everyday lives. For instance, people decide on what to eat for breakfast, where to go in the afternoon, what to buy for dinner, who to go out with in the evening, etc. Basically, the story of our lives is based on the choices and decisions that we make which drives the path that our lives would take. The question is, how do we make our choices? On which grounds do we base our decisions? At this point, we discuss the concepts of choosing based on knowledge and choosing by default. From the discussion of one of these ideas, we can clearly base our analysis of the other.

            Choosing by default means that decisions be made unconsciously without thorough evaluation or analysis of the results or outcomes and other options that might be available to take. Choosing or making decisions by default happens because of several reasons. First, people tend to choose something unwisely without exploring all the alternatives and options before making a decision. The decision was based merely on the current situation wherein a given choice seems to be the most plausible thing to do during that moment, without even determining or waiting for other options that are more desirable.

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Another basis on which people base their decisions by default is the reason that a particular choice or decision is the easiest thing to do. Choices are simply made because it is more convenient and effortless, as compared to other options and alternatives. At this point, the result or an outcome of a choice that was made just because of superficial reasons is based on chance. Whether or not a certain choice or decision made will results to desirable outcomes or consequences, is based on chance or providence.

Moreover, there are some external factors, which influence decisions made by default. In some instances, decisions are not based on careful considerations nor personal choices, but on the choices that other people make. Sometimes choices made by default are based on what society dictates one should do or become. Examples include peer pressure, social trends and developments, marketing and advertising, etc. In this case, the choice made by default is motivated by outside forces and not influenced by personal inclinations to make choices impulsively.

On the other hand, people make rational and carefully evaluated choices. In this situation, people choose to make decisions knowledgeably. Choosing knowledgeably greatly differs from the concept of making decisions by default. These two concepts are complete opposites. Choosing knowledgeably is achieved when a person do not simply make a choice straightforwardly without looking at the bigger picture or the larger aspect of what the decision making entails and what it would result to in the future. Choosing knowledgeably means exploring other options and alternatives in order to judge and assess which would generate the best results out of all the options or alternatives evaluated.

Choosing knowledgeably follows a system or a process of making decisions that is based on the standards of a rational and knowledgeable choice. According to Nena and George O’Neil, making choices knowledgeably follows a cycle.  The significance of making the choice is the purpose of choosing knowledgeably. In making choices, the entire predicament is considered. Moreover, all the options and alternatives are laid out in order to identify which choice would yield the best results. The impact or effect of the decisions to oneself and to other people is also studied. Considerations involving the correctness or soundness of a choice are also involved in making decisions. Moreover, the social environment must be considered, such as what society dictates, what religious institutions promote, cultural traditions and beliefs, and personal insights on the matter. Once the person is willing to accept changes by making a decision, the decision is carried out through actions and behavior.

            People make default choices all the time, in different aspects of their lives, whether decisions entail making critical considerations or not. The influences of both decision-making options such as choosing by default and choosing knowledgeably shall be explored and analyzed by applying them to several real life situations. For instance, people choose by default in the aspect of the marriage gradient. The marriage gradient plays on two fields, such that it incorporates both making choices knowledgeably and by default. The marriage gradient phenomenon is said to influence a woman’s decision with regards to marriage. Basically, the marriage gradient dictates the pattern on which women should base their decisions in marriage. The phenomenon explicates women’s predisposition to marry depending on the age, level of education, job, etc. of the opposite sex.

            As aforementioned, the marriage gradient plays on two fields. Default choices made within the marriage gradient is due to the standards that society dictates. It is based on the “should be’s” that society requires men to have in order for women to marry them. This, I think, is choosing by default. This is because decisions are based on a given standard to follow, and women merely follow it, instead of thinking about the implications of these standards to marriage, or exploring other meaningful reasons of going into marriage. What women and society do not realize is that there is more to marriage than the age, educational level, total amount of salary, etc. that a man earns. There are other factors such as compatibility, emotional connection and attachment, and other non-tangible aspects that are involved in a marriage. If women base their decisions merely on the standards of the marriage gradient, then they are making choices by default.

            However, the marriage gradient also supports making knowledgeable choices and decisions. Setting a standard also raises the standards of women in making decisions. It serves as a reminder for women to thoroughly think about the decision of marrying someone. Although following the said standard set by the marriage gradient is considered a default choice, it can be shifted to become a decision grounded on knowledge and rationality. This is accomplished through the capacity of the marriage gradient to encourage women to make decisions that are wise and desirable. For instance, choosing men who are well educated, thus, having a promising future ahead of them or men who are well educated whom women can converse sensibly with. The standard set by the marriage gradient, if interpreted with depth, may be used for making decisions rationally. Therefore, the decision of making choices either knowledgeably or by default lies solely on the person.

            The roles that men and women play in society may be taken as either a knowledgeable or a default choice. Traditionally, men are labeled to be the dominant gender in society. People perceive men to be well educated, strong-willed who take on the responsibility of taking care of the financial needs of the family, engaged in politics and other serious matters in society, etc. On the other hand, women are seen to be the submissive type, who stay at home and take care of household chores and their children. Women are not highly educated, but domesticated. Moreover, women do not hold high positions in the social strata. These views originated from the past and until now influences the structure of society.

            This view of gender roles affects the way men and women make their decisions. For instance, once a couple gets married and have children, some men would tell their wives to stay at home and care for their children. In some marriages, the role that they play becomes automatic because the system of “husband works, wife works at home” has long been a belief common in history, which was carried on to be part of the societal structure. This becomes a decision by default. However, the decision to practice the traditional roles of men and women become a knowledgeable decision, when one is able to weigh the importance of adhering to it.

            For instance, when both parents decide that having the wife stay at home and care for their children and their needs, while the other works in order to support the needs of their children, then this becomes a knowledgeable decision. This is because the decision was based on careful evaluation and analysis of the situation by assessing the primary needs of the children. Since the welfare of the children is at stake, parents decide to do whatever it takes in order to provide for the needs of their children. At this point, being a wife who stays at home and a husband who works all day, will not be considered as a choice done by default, but a knowledgeable choice done with thorough analysis and rationality.

            Even in communication, there lies a difference between choosing by default and choosing intelligibly. Although communication is a very broad topic, I have chosen to apply the concepts of the two types of decision-making processes to communicating problems within the family. The choices made by default or knowledgeable decisions are based on how communication is initiated and what the information communicated is all about. A problem that arises within the family becomes part of making decisions because it concerns all its members. The choice of communicating by default is observable on how parents to choose to talk about the problem immediately because that is how it is supposed to be. Moreover, it is already given that the parents and the children should talk about problems within the family because it concerns them.

            Making choices knowledgeably in this situation manifests when providing solution to the problem becomes the motivation or the intention of initiating a family conference, for instance. This is because, the rational side of it is that the problem must be addressed in order to eliminate the disadvantages or detrimental effects of letting the problem mount up. This becomes a knowledgeable choice.

            Although the two concepts, choosing knowledgeably and by default, vary in meaning and purpose, both types of making choices may be applied in all decision-making situations. It all depends on how one chooses either to resolve a predicament by making choices by default without thinking about the underlying issues that surround a problem, or to make choices intelligibly by thinking and critically analyzing everything that goes with a particular problem.


Lamanna, M. A. & Riedman, A. (2006). Marriages and Families: Making Choices in a Diverse

            Society 9th Ed. Massachusetts: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2005.

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Choosing Knowledgeably and Choosing by Default. (2016, Aug 10). Retrieved from

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