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What Are the Different Types of Decision Making Models?

By Marlene Garcia
Updated May 16, 2024
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Decision making models fall into two general categories: rational and intuitive. These two broad categories provide variations to arrive at a decision in any situation. The rational decision making model includes the Vroom-Jago system and a seven-step process. Recognition-primed decision making models are considered intuitive methods. Managers and leaders often combine rational and intuitive models when faced with a problem or opportunity.

Rational decision making models employ a structured approach that is orderly and logical. A sequence of steps starts with identifying the problem or situation at hand, followed by compiling all the facts and information necessary to create a solution. Next, the data is analyzed for various options to determine which action might achieve the desired result. The final step in rational decision making involves acting on the preferred option and setting aside adequate resources to make it work.

The Vroom-Jago system guides a manager in determining if he or she should make the decision independently or include colleagues. For simple problems, a manager typically acts alone. In other situations, he or she may speak with coworkers separately to outline the situation but does not seek feedback. For more complex issues, the manager might call a group meeting to solicit input before the group reaches a consensus on a solution.

Intuitive decision making models represent a subjective way to find a solution. It employs gut feeling, knowledge, and making judgment calls. The manager might use his or her values, ethics, and emotions, along with past experience, to solve a problem. Leaders commonly use this technique when decisions must be made quickly and there is not enough time to gather all the facts.

Heuristic decision making is based on the intuitive model, with three subcategories defined as shortcuts when time is scarce. Representative heuristics means making a decision based on what appears familiar. Anchor heuristics uses a value system to quickly devise a solution in an emergency situation. Availability heuristics relies on memory and past experiences, along with known facts, to reach a decision.

The recognition primed model helps a manager learn to recognize patterns that can be mentally weighed. He or she recalls experiences in the past when a particular solution worked and determines if the same process might be effective in the current dilemma. As a person’s experience grows, his or her ability to recognize patterns improves to make decision making more effective.

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Discussion Comments

By umbra21 — On Jul 14, 2011

@bythewell - Structuralism is useful for learning general ideas about something. Most people outside of self help books wouldn't be able to base their lives around making decisions according to a decision making structure.

Structuralism is good for things like an ethical decision making model which can be used by a committee so that they remain consistent and fair with each case they consider.

Or maybe a student could use a career decision making model in order to pick a college or a particular class.

As long as they don't follow the steps blindly it can be a very useful tool.

By bythewell — On Jul 13, 2011

This kind of structuralism can be very useful but you shouldn't rely on it completely. Structuralism is when people try to impose a logical or typical process of steps over something which really isn't logical and doesn't always have a neat series of speaks.

It's a good way to explore and try to understand the process of decision making, but if you try to fit your real life into a model it doesn't always work. There are just too many variables, particularly with something like decision making.

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