Copyright

The Rational Actor Model of Decision Making

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Monitoring & Controlling Phase of Project Management

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 The Rational Actor Model
  • 1:10 Four Key Concepts
  • 3:09 Model Drawbacks
  • 4:11 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Olga Bugajenko

Olga is a registered PRINCE2 Practitioner and has a master's degree in project management.

Would you like to understand how world leaders and country leaders made their historical decisions? The rational actor model and its four key concepts will help you to successfully analyze past decisions.

The Rational Actor Model

When paging through the morning newspaper, do you ever wonder why a country's leader makes one decision and not another? Do you ever catch yourself asking, What were they thinking? Historians often use a special tool when analyzing past political decisions, attempting to replicate the rationale behind particular choices.

This tool is known as the rational actor model. The main assumption of it is reflected in its name: the primary decision-maker is believed to be a rational person, making an optimal choice based on calculated expected benefits and guided by consistent personal values. The knowledge about their preferences is then used to explain the choices they've made. Behavior where the choices made are consistent with the original goals is referred to as instrumental rationality.

While the main concepts of the model can be applied successfully when making a new decision, it's most often used when analyzing historical decisions, particularly in the field of foreign policy. The rational actor model of decision-making is also sometimes referred to as a rational choice model.

Four Key Concepts

At the heart of the model lie four key concepts that are applied step-by-step to explain a decision. Let's take a closer look at each of these, using the example of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We'll analyze it from the perspective of the US president at the time, John F. Kennedy, who had to respond to the Soviet Union placing short-range nuclear missiles on Cuba.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support