All You Need To Know About Rational Decision Making


Table of Contents

Emotions drive our choices, as well as our behaviour and habits. Logic, on the other hand, is when choices are made through the accumulation of facts, options and data. We are particularly emotional when we have to make a decision that will affect us directly.

When working with a team or acting on behalf of several people, the emotional side of the process must be eliminated. This is called rational decision making. Before looking at the steps that lead to rational decision making, let us first discuss what rationality actually is and what it entails.


  • Rational decision making leverages objective data, logic, and analysis to achieve a goal or solve a problem. Subjectivity and intuition are excluded from the rational thinking process.
  • It is a process that is broken down into steps, identifying the problem, setting out the various options for solving it and finding an appropriate (1), objective and logical answer.
  • It is a process of removing assumptions from our fact-based choices. Rational thinking is Cartesian thinking that excludes all assumptions or uncertain facts from so-called logical decision-making and rational thinking.

What you should know about rational decisions

A rational decision is made as a sequence of successive moments, from a desire to its satisfaction, through deliberation and final choice. Ultimately, rational decision making is suitable for decision making in so-called “given” environments.

In these environments, the parties involved in the decision have most of the information needed to make a logical decision tailored to a defined problem. The use and processing of this available information to choose the best decision is part of rational thinking.

What is rational decision making?

Rational decisions are those made under the influence of a certain amount of evidence and information. They are similar to decisions that are called logical because they are made based on the data we have. The elements are clearly identified and the evolutions are controlled.

When to use a rational decision?

When studying the decisions made in organizations, we observe that the concepts of rationality and decision making are intertwined (1).

The use of rational decision making should occur mainly when an appropriate decision must be made to face and solve problems, take advantage of opportunities or avoid risks (2). It’s mainly performed in organizations and companies. This decision making process seems complex. In fact, it is necessary to eliminate the dependence on subjectivity and individual reasoning.

Rationality is a process that implies a constant and total capacity to question past behaviors in order to redefine new actions according to criteria and objectives. The duality in this job is to succeed in adapting rational thinking and making logical decisions for the well-being of the company and employees.

What do rational thinking and logical decision making involve?

One of the main principles of rationality is to be emotionally stable. For example, in a negotiation, emotions must be left aside at all. In fact, it is relevant to know how to differentiate between decisions made under the impulse of emotions and decisions made consciously.

Moreover, impulsivity can lead to failures or even catastrophic results with respect to the decision taken under impulsivity (3). The control of emotions is therefore essential in the process of rational thinking and in the making of adapted, logical and effective decisions.

Read more about Decision Making Skills

What are the benefits of rational thinking?

(Source: Léa Bellamy/ Gitnux)

What are the limits of rationality in thinking and decision making?

The main limit of rationality is past actions. Indeed, past actions condition present and future choices. As past actions determine new choices, the rational process moves away because there is already a conditioning. In fact, if we link habits and past choices, there is little room for rationality in new actions and decisions.

Therefore, in group decision making, individual rationality is especially limited, since all the results obtained in the past and their effect on the present play an important role in new problem-solving and thus in the decision making process.

7 simple steps to make a rational decision

“This relationship with the human capacity to reason, makes the decision making process acquire peculiar characteristics and, therefore, is valued as a process that must be rational, influenced by certain factors such as the problem, the causes, the solution alternatives and even the implementation and control of the decision (4)”.

Here is a simple 7-step process (6) that you can follow to make rational decisions.

1. Verify and define your problem

When you state that there is a problem it is because you can prove that the problem exists. This is done by showing one or more pieces of evidence. So, before asserting that there is a problem, you need to collect data to identify exactly where the problem is coming from.

For example, if sales through your website are declining, it is not necessarily because your product is unpopular or no longer popular. By collecting your website data and especially traffic data, you can get an explanation. Your organic traffic may be increasing, but if your email or social media traffic is decreasing, it may be because your communication is not good or sufficient and not converting enough.

2. Do some research and brainstorm possible solutions to your problem

The more solutions you have, the more likely you are to solve your problem. But you still need to have enough solutions (5). These can be found in your knowledge, but also by gathering information. This can be done by searching the Internet or talking to other people. This will give you a new perspective and new solutions that you may not have thought of before.

(Source: Léa Bellamy/ Gitnux)
ProblemsPossible solutions
Problem 1“We could focus on growing organic traffic, email and social media all at the same time”.
Problem 2“We could focus on email and social media because organic traffic is growing”.
Problem 3“We could focus solely on growing social traffic. Growing social traffic is easier than growing email and organic traffic at the same time. Plus, we already have a solid follower base, so we can push our social media strategy a bit more”.
Problem 4“We could focus solely on growing email traffic, since it’s easier to grow social and organic traffic at the same time. Plus, we already have a good subscriber base”.
Problem 5“We could focus solely on growing organic traffic. Growing organic traffic is easier than growing social and email traffic at the same time. We can work on our SEO strategy to get better ranking”.

3. Set standards of success and failure for your potential solutions

It is important to rank the solutions to choose the most viable one. Indeed, by recording the chances of realization of each of your possible solutions, you will see which ones are the most achievable and which ones are not, or have an uncertain success rate. However, your success rate should not be too high. You will never be able to find a solution. But if your standards are realistic, measurable and focused, you will be able to find one.

“If one of our solutions increases our total sales by 10%, we should consider it a practical way to overcome our traffic plateau”.

4. Be concrete about the potential results of each solution

Next, you must determine the consequences of each of your solutions. To do this, create a table of strengths and weaknesses for each alternative and compare them against each other. You should also prioritize your solutions in a list from the one most likely to solve the problem to the one least likely to solve the problem.

ProblemsPossible Solutions
Problem 1“Working on three channels at the same time is not possible as we don’t have enough money to invest in three strategies at the same time”.
Problem 2“We can focus only on social media and email, however, these two options only account for a small percentage of our traffic”.
Problem 3We could focus solely on social media by publishing a blog post every day, for example. However, the algorithm on Facebook and Instagram is tricky and we need to have someone who specializes in these platforms to make sure we will be efficient in doing so”.
Problem 4“If we decide to focus on sending emails, we could, for example, send more emails per day to our subscribers. However, our followers already receive one email a day from us and this represents only 10% of our traffic”.
Problem 5“As our website is already well known and ranks well in Google, focusing on SEO and effective keywords seems to be the easiest way to reach our goal, which is to increase our online sales volume”.

5. Choose the best solution and test it

Once all possible solutions have been considered, it’s time to choose the one that seems most feasible and effective in the long run.

In our case, the SEO strategy seems to be the most suitable in view of the possible solutions mentioned above. Therefore, test your strategy, set up a plan with steps, and define each of them well. Start, with the dissemination of better product descriptions on your site as an example.

6. Follow up and analyze the results of your test

Once the solution is chosen, and the strategy is launched, analyze the results. The chosen solution may not be the most effective. That is why it is important to check the figures that will show the performance.

You have changed the description of your articles to improve your ranking and get more sales. After the first month, check your sales volume and your organic traffic. You can see that your sales have increased by 7% and your organic traffic has increased by 25%.

(Source: Léa Bellamy/ Gitnux)

7. If the test solves your problem, implement the solution. If not, try a new one

Correlate the numbers or results to your problem to make sure it’s an effective and rational decision. If the results show that the problem no longer exists, then you have made a rational decision. However, if the results do not solve the problem, try a new solution, perhaps more effective than the previous one.

Thanks to better referral work, the chosen solution delivers results that exceed our expectations. Our sales are increasing and organic traffic is exceeding the figures we had set ourselves


In a constantly changing and evolving world, it is difficult to access all the necessary parameters to make the most appropriate decision for the problem or the objective to be achieved. Moreover, the decisive process leads to the mental use of our skills and knowledge. This is where the problem lies.

It is important to be efficient, organized and a good leader in order not to mix emotions and objectivity. All this is possible if you follow a certain method while developing our rational decision making capabilities.


1. Hernández, O., & García de la Torre, C. (2019, January 30). Rational decisions: atheoretical interpretation. View of Rational decisions: A theoretical interpretation. Retrieved October 4, 2022

2. Rodríguez Cruz, Y. (2013, March). The Impact of bounded rationality on the process … – scielo. Retrieved October 5, 2022

3. De Martino, B., Kumaran, D., Seymour, B., & Dolan, R.J. (2006). Frames, biases, and rational decision-making in the human brain. Retrieved October 5, 2022

4. Codina, A., Betanzos, E. O., Mcbride, R., & Fernandez, J. E. (2007, January 19). Management indecision. Fear of failure. Retrieved October 5, 2022

5. The Smart Organization. The Intelligent Organization – Intelligent Management of Organizations (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2022

6. Robbins , S. (n.d.). Organizational behavior. Google Books. Retrieved October 5, 2022


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