Rational and Intuitive Decision Making Style

Rational and Intuitive Decision Making Style

Olga Pilipczuk (University of Szczecin, Poland)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5202-6.ch179

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Many years ago, researchers emphasized the advantage of rational decision-making over intuitive decision-making. The main reason for this was that many scientists thought that intuitive ways of solving problems belonged to the realm of the irrational or even paranormal. Scientists believed that intuitive processes are beyond the scope of research. However, research on cognitive science and artificial intelligence proved that there is nothing mystical about the intuition in decision-making process. An important factor influencing behavioral decisions that go beyond logic and rationality is intuition (Griffin, 1996).

Intuition is used:

  • when there is ambiguity and lack of clarity of data,

  • when there is no precedent information,

  • in the case of the nonprogrammable nature of alternative,

  • in nonroutine situations that require a specific approach,

  • in the case of high importance of the decision and its results,

  • under time pressure,

  • etc.

However, with the increase in uncertainty and the number of independent variables, decisions become more complex and intuitive judgments less reliable. Analytics needs reliable methods and tools that will help make better choices between alternatives – the rational decision-making style, which is the logical and structured approach to find the information, assessment of information, and evaluation of information during the decision-making process.

Today very few managers make decisions only on the basis of well-deliberated calculations. They often neglect the normative rules when making decisions under crisis conditions. Instead, they take advantage of intuition or “a hunch.” However, many managers, if there is a possibility, try to combine the rational and intuitive approach. Researchers have emphasized the desirability of the use of methods which combine these two management styles.



Although, the subject of intuition is very popular today, there has been little in-depth scientific work carried out in this area. Most of the research done has been theoretical in nature.

Intuition is one of the most imprecise concepts related to the process of decision making. In the literature, the term intuition has many interpretations: judgment, insight or gut feeling (Dean, Mihalasky, Ostrander, & Schroeder, 1974), extrasensory perception (Leavitt, 1975b), irrationality (Cohen & March, 1974), recognition (Goldberg, 1983), the edge (Tichy, 1997) etc. These, sometimes unusual definitions indicate the diverse nature of intuition.

Selye defined intuition as an unconscious intelligence observed without reasoning or inference; “it is an immediate understanding or knowledge without rational thinking” (Dobrołowicz, 1995).

An interesting definition of intuition was given by Vaughan. He treated intuition as a synthetic psychological function, which allows recognizing the situation as a whole. Intuition also allows us to synthesize data and experience to one integrated image. It is a holistic perception of reality that goes beyond the rational ways of knowing (Vaughan, 1990).

Intuition could also be defined as “instinctively know something, the state of being conscious of something or know something without a subject or explore the perception of something” (Encarta, 1999). Klein’s (Klein, 2003) understanding of intuition is relatively more specific, and he indicated its relationship to decision-making. According to his theory, experts assess the situation on the basis of a comparison with similar situations already experienced.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Rationality: The logical way of thinking or analysis.

Decision Making: The process which conclude to making the choice between alternatives.

Pros and Cons Method: Elementary method that helps to calculate the positive and negative factors have influence on or characteristics of an object, phenomenon, system or situation.

Intuition (in decision making context): The mental opinion about correct decision alternative.

Rational Decision Making: The logical way to solving decision problems.

Intuitive Decision Making: The decision making done mentally, without calculations, systems and methods supported.

Heat Map: Image on which the value of criterion importance is showed by using the color spectrum. The most meaningful, important or optimal places - “heat places” are showed by red color.

Decision: The result of the choosing between alternatives.

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