Decision making: The consequences and identity models

According to James March, people make decisions using one of two models: The consequences model and the identity model.

Using the consequences model, we weigh the pros and cons of different options and make an analytical decision about which option to go with.

With the identity model of decision making, we make choices that align with our own (perceived) identity. When making decisions in this way, costs and benefits don’t really factor in to our decision.

The identity model explains the way most people vote and helps shed light on why, for example, an auto mechanic in Oklahoma would vote against a Democrat who’d give him health insurance, and why a Silicon Valley millionaire would vote against a Republican who’d cut her taxes.