The Best Decisions are Governed by Values

A man's decision to donate one of his kidneys to a stranger offers Healthy Survivors a provocative insight on decision-making. 

In How a Kidney Donation Saved a Life--and What We All Can Learn From This Generous Act,  Rabbi Yogi Robkin shares the story of his father's decision: "I tried to pinpoint the roots of my dad's decision to make the sacrifice. Why had he done what too few people had done? What gave him the courage, the vision, the desire?"

In response, his father pointed him to the work of psychologists Amos Tversky and  Daniel Kahneman. They posited that people don't make decisions based on data, but on stories, and people put more emphasis on risks than on benefits. Their expectation was that awareness of these quirks of the mind would help people overcome those two obstacles to making wise, rational decisions.  

Surprisingly--and disappointingly to the psychologists, people could know and believe the flaws in human decision-making and yet allow stories and fears to drive their decisions, overriding values.

Not everyone, of course. Definitely not Robkin's father, who was "motivated solely by the desire to help another person who might need it." His father put his values above his natural fears, which enabled him to see the decision as a simple one: "God gave us a gift at birth — one kidney for ourselves and another to share with someone in need."

Healthy Survivors know the best decisions are informed decisions in keeping with their values. 

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