Decision-making is a mental process of evaluating different causes of action, and arriving at the course of action, which suits bests in a given situation (Dietrich 1). While many people think that decision-making is a process that involves problem-solving, not every decision involves a problem. For instance, deciding whether to buy a dark shoe or a white shoe is not a problem, and does not involve solving a problem. Making such a decision involves choosing between two alternatives, whereby, the choice made, is influenced by an individual’s tastes and preferences. On the other hand, a decision made by a business manager on whether to investment in the stock market, or in the real-estate business involves solving a problem. This is because, there are financial, and economic implications, which the business will experience depending on the decision made. Therefore, decision-making can involve either solving a problem, or simply making a choice between two alternatives.
Everyday, we are faced with the need to make decisions such as economic, financial, political, personal, investment, and career decisions. All these decision usually follow specific decision-making models. We utilize decision-making models in making judgments, which guides us in making decisions (Dietrich 1). Many scholars have tried to identify different types of decision-making models. The most common and widely used decision-making models include rational, ultimate, intuitive, normative, and recognition primed decision-making models. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the decision-making process is usually the same regardless of the decision-making model being used.
The process of decision-making starts with defining the situation in which a decision is required. This stage is very important because it requires a clear understanding of the situation, and a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved. Misinformation about the situation may negatively affect the later stages of decision-making (Decision Making Models). The next stage involves generating the possible alternatives for achieving what is required. A decision is never a decision until alternative courses of action are identified. A number of factors influence the alternatives chosen. These factors may include past experience, number of people involved in decision-making process, number of people likely to be affected by the decision, and individual differences such as age, gender, social-cultural differences, and socioeconomic status (Dietrich 2). All possible alternatives should be identified to prevent leaving out some courses of action, which might eventually become the ultimate decision.
The third stage of decision-making involves gathering information concerning all the possible courses of action identified in stage two. Information gathering entails weighing between the likely benefits and the likely costs of every alternative course of action (Decision Making Model). This is followed by selection of the course of action, which has the highest net-benefit (possible benefits minus possible costs). The final stage of decision-making is action taking. It is important to note that a course of action is never a decision until it is implemented. For instance, where a business manager is faced with the need to make an investment decision, and the selected course of action is to invest in the stock market, this course of action cannot be termed as a decision until the action of buying stocks is taken.
According to Darzentas, rational decision-making model is the most popular model of decision-making (3). This model entails utilizing cognitive judgment to weigh between the pros and con of various options, and then making a making a decision based on the logic and sensibleness of the alternatives (Decision Making Models). This model of decision-making is usually organized. When a problem is recognized, or a situation requiring decision-making is identified, the concerned individual(s) carefully analyzes the situation in order to come up with various courses of action. Usually, where this model of decision-making is adapted, decision-making committees are convened. “Most agent-based human models use rational choice for decision making, whereby, all possible choices are considered and ranked, and the highest ranked plan is chosen” (Darzentas 3). On the contrary, studies reveal that this model is rarely used: specifically, in emergency contexts. This is because; rational decision-making model requires high levels of cooperation between the decision makers and other stakeholders. High levels of fear, anxiety, and stress tends to interfere with the concentration of individuals involved in decision making during emergency, which in return reduces cooperation.
On the other hand, ultimate decision-making model, involves making a decision using the information available during a particular situation (Decision Making Model). The ultimate model of decision-making allows one to make a choice from an array of alternatives within the shortest time possible. Individual’s experiences and relevant learning usually play vital roles in the ultimate decision-making model. Using this information, an individual is able to make a decision quickly and easily, while being sure that the decision arrived at is right.
Intuitive decision-making model entails making decisions without paying much attention to the situation or the problem that gives rise to the decision-making need. In many cases, decisions made through following the intuition model are either lucky guesses or unlikely coincidences (Decision Making Models 4). Situational aspects, which may contribute to use of intuitive decision-making model, may include chaotic conditions, information overload, and lack of time (Decision Making Models 4). For instance, the military may result into intuitive decision-making model due to lack of time: sudden attack by enemies. In fact, many researchers support the use of intuitive model of decision-making in the military. However, using this model may have negative impacts especially where the individual making the decision is under the influence of substances, which disrupts the normal thinking capacity. Such substances include alcohol and illicit drugs.
According to Baron, many of the social evils experienced in the society result from the use of intuition in decision-making (23). For this reason, Baron observes that use of intuition in decision-making should be discouraged. Instead, institutions should encourage people to utilize rational decision-making model since the results of this model are not likely to have negative impacts in the society. Despite the association of intuition decision-making model with negative social impacts, a study conducted by psychologist Klein suggests that, many people use intuition model ninety percent of the time when making decisions (Decision Making Models 5).
Recognition primed model of decision-making is based on the research studies of psychologist Klein (Decision Making Models 5). After his study on the use of intuition in decision-making, Klein discovered that there are clues, which allow an individual to recognize various patterns of arriving at a decision. For this reason, recognition primed model is based on recognition of decision-making patterns in making choices (Decision Making Models 5). The model maintains that, the more an individual becomes acquainted in decision-making process, the more he/she is able to recognize the patterns involved in decision-making. The choice of a particular course of action depends on the patterns recognized.
The process of making a decision using recognition primed model begins with pattern recognition. Once a pattern has been recognized, it is then rehearsed in the mind of the individual. If the individual believes the pattern will work, then he/she implements an action. Conversely, if the individual finds that, the recognized pattern will not work after subjecting it to mental rehearsal; he/she chooses another one and takes it through the rehearsal process again. The process is done repetitively until the best course of action is arrived at. Just like ultimate decision making model, recognition primed decision making model depends a lot on the individual’s past experience and relevant learning. The higher the level of experience and learning, the more the ability to recognize patterns, rehearse them, and put them into action. It is important to note that recognition primed decision making model does not involve weighing between the likely benefits and costs of the alternative courses of action. Instead, it involves cycling through the available courses of action until the most suitable action is found (Decision Making Models 5).
Normative decision-making model, also known as Simon’s normative model, is based on the notion that decision-making process is not rational (Baron 24). Simon’s normative model maintains that decision-making does not involve going through a process of weighing alternative courses of action. This is because; the model maintains that decision-making is characterized by limited information, use of shortcuts, and the requirement to satisfy the need that exists (Baron 24). Lack of enough information is what usually gives rise to the need of making a decision. According to normative decision model, if there were enough information, then decisions would not need to be made, since the best course of action would be known in advance (Baron 25). Based on this argument, normative decision-making model utilizes the limited information available, apply the rule of thumb to arrive at the decision, and then satisfy the current need.
From the study, the intuition model is the most common model of decision-making. Though some researchers do not encourage use of this model, it remains as the popular model of decision-making, especially among the military groups. Rational decision-making model is also a common model of decision making in situations where more that two individuals are involved: either as decision makers or as stakeholders. Nevertheless, decision-making process follows the same stages regardless of the model used.