Choice and value

Choice and value are very closely related. When a person chooses action A over action B, it is because, in that context, the person values the immediately apparent consequences of A over those of B.

People understandably differ in their relative valuation of short-term and long-term consequences. Much of this is due to their beliefs, rather than anything demonstrable. The martyr who sacrifices himself to a cause probably believes either in their personal survival after death, or in the long-term benefits of his sacrifice to the cause.

It may be that what is immediately apparent is more likely to be short-term, but that is not necessarily true.

One of the consequences that people most often take into consideration is their own self-esteem, and their esteem in their social group.

When someone chooses to buy something, this is presumably because they value the immediately apparent consequences of buying the thing more than those of not buying it, or buying something else. But of course, often they have not considered the alternatives.

When someone is choosing to buy one of two or more alternatives, calculating the apparent consequences can be difficult if not practically impossible. People fall back on their "values": this can be thought of as established patterns of actual choice, whether conscious or unconscious; or alternatively as conscious principles that may govern the process of choice.

It is all immensely complex, and that is reassuring, as the topic surely has this immense complexity. People usually find making rational decisions hard, and they will do anything to make this process simpler. People only have a real choice where they are practically able to choose between options, and that means that their values must support that choice.