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A decision weight reflects a person's subjective interpretation of an objective probability. Almost all medical decisions involve probabilistic outcomes. For example, there is some chance that a treatment will cure a disease and some chance that the treatment will have a side effect. Data are often available to help patients and providers know the probability that an outcome, such as a serious side effect, will occur. When people face decisions involving uncertain outcomes, how do they use these probabilities?

Theories of rational decision making recommend using the exact value of the probability in evaluating a decision. For example, in expected utility theory, a rational decision maker should evaluate the overall worth of an option by (a) multiplying the probability of each possible outcome by the utility ...

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