The advantages of choice theory

Written by kristyn hammond Google
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The advantages of choice theory
Choice theory provides an insight into the way people make decisions. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Psychiatrist William Glasser developed choice theory to explain the human decision-making process. Choice theory explains that every decision people make is based on a combination of five genetically driven factors: survival, human connection, power, autonomy and fun. The relation of each of these factors determines the outcome of every decision that a person makes, and choice theory establishes a method for investigating the decision-making process and even predicting the outcome between individuals.

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Autonomous Choice

Choice theory proposes the idea that every individual is autonomous -- responsible for their own actions. It explains that others can provide information, suggest alternatives or even attempt to physically coerce a decision; however, ultimately, the deciding individual is responsible for their final determination. The self-reliance aspect of choice theory is empowering; for instance, if you feel influenced by other people's decisions and coercion, choice theory suggests that you have the final decision making power and encourages you to use this power as a freeing force.

Interaction Prediction

The application of choice theory suggests that if you knew enough information about the physical and psychological needs of an individual, you could predict their reaction to any interaction. While knowing these specific needs is a challenge to the theory, a failed interaction can provide information about the specific needs of an individual. As an example, if you decide to cheer up your spouse and knew his specific needs, you could identify that he may be working too hard and therefore needs some fun in his life as well as an increase in human connection. From this information, you can decide to take your spouse out and do something fun together.


Product marketing includes work to increase sales of various products or to increase the rate at which customers choose your product. Marketers know that they cannot know the exact needs of their customers; they can know, however, the exact needs that their products can fulfil. Choice theory helps marketers organise the fulfilled needs of their products, increasing their ability to appeal to customer choice. For instance, if you are marketing a new computer accounting program and decide that it meets the power need by giving your customers the power to control their accounting needs and autonomy from having to work with physical accountants. As a result, you market your new program by specifically suggesting that it gives you the power to control your finances and frees you from reliance on your accountant.


The concentration on physical and psychological needs that choice theory provides gives therapists a tool to investigate patients and examine their problems in conjunction with their needs. The result is a more comprehensive understanding of the things in a patient's life that influence their decision-making abilities. A trained choice theory therapist examines these influences and helps patients see the things they are missing in their lives, creating an opportunity for healing.

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