The primary basis of contemporary forest planning research, which assumes the forest owner to maximize his or her expected utility, has left aside cognitive and social patterns of reasoning in real decision-making situations. To add on to present knowledge, the decision aid needs were approached by assessing different ways of solving decision problems among non-industrial private forest (NIPF) owners in Finland. The study investigated how the diversifying goal structure of NIPF owners would be reflected in practical decision-making strategies. Semi-structured in-depth interviews and qualitative analysis were used to acquire a deeper understanding of NIPF owners' decision making. Altogether, 30 purposively selected owners from southern Finland provided information to analyse the level of sharing decision power and eagerness to learn in decision making. Five decision-making modes were distinguished among the interviewees: (A) substantial trust in professionals, (B) desire to learn for self-reliance, (C) sequential, managerial judgements, (D) balanced, considerate decision making, and (E) strong decisions of one's own. According to these modes, corresponding decision aid approaches were constructed. The results show a broad variety of problem-solving strategies and thus decision aid needs. To facilitate unprompted and genuine decision making, the presented modes should be taken into account when owner-orientated forest planning services for NIPF owners are developed.