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Is decision making driven by emotion? Saturday September 24, 2016

Decision-making isn't logical, it's emotional, according to the latest findings in neuroscience.

A few years ago, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio made a groundbreaking discovery. He studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that they seemed normal, except that they were not able to feel emotions. But they all had something peculiar in common: they couldn't make decisions. They could describe what they should be doing in logical terms, yet they found it very difficult to make even simple decisions, such as what to eat. Many decisions have pros and cons on both sides — shall I have the chicken or the turkey? With no rational way to decide, these test subjects were unable to arrive at a decision.

So at the point of decision, emotions are very important for choosing. In fact even with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably always based on emotion.

What are the implications for us? Would being aware of our emotions as we decide help?

What do you think?


The Moodscope team.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Duma Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 4:42am

Not wanting to burst anybody's bubble, but - conscious thoughts are like the 'ticker tape' beneath rolling news.

Watch the vids, listen to the talking heads, don't slow down.

Acceleration is the key.

Outpace your 'inner voice' and enlighten.

If nothing else, it beats...

...Colouring in books. Sheesh!

Hamster wheel, or what?

Cheers, Duma.

Lex Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 5:02am

Hi Adrian, great, brief, blog.
Yes, I feel the value!
This is Emotional Intelligence in action - we must feel our way to a decision. Huge implications for the legal system!
Logic? Leave it to the Vulcans! ...oh, hang on, it's a good idea too. So: emote, cognite (I made that up - ignite your cognition), excite! Have a great week end and thank you! Lex

S Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 9:52am

Thanks Lex, like 'cognite'! Also, wanted to say very late that Monday's blog was very useful. Sx

S Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 9:53am

And a thank you for it, Sx

the room above the garage Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 6:23am

When ill, I can't make a decision and agonise once it's made as to whether it was right or wrong. I'm feeling well so I'm knocking out decisions no problem! Fascinated by this and I'll be watching how i approach decisions from now on. Right now, I know I have to get out and stand on a cold, wet, very windy pitch. My emotion is screaming 'noooooo' :-) Thank you Adrian, love ratg x.

LP Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 8:02am

Hi Adrian,
I saw a programme a year or so ago which showed examples of how people when faced with a decision which involved taking a risk with money, they made more rational decisions when there was a chance they could gain money, but less rational decisions when there was a chance they might lose money.
There were lots of examples of people deciding against logic but following their "gut" feelings.
As a person who has believed in following my gut feelings, this surprised me. I have generally been driven by emotion. Anger, fear and fear of loss have lead me to decide to act on feelings in ways that haven't helped me.
Thanks for raising my awareness Adrian. I'll aim for a balance and tune into the voice of my higher self and logic, alongside my emotions and instictive gut. Awareness is key. Act rather than react.
Hugs to all, LPxx

Orangeblossom Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 9:44am

Hi Adrian, my son sometimes speaks of "being attacked by the decision monster" which I think is a lovely way of expressing his emotions. I believe decisions are made by the combination of emotions & thinking powers working in unison. I reckon that LP has it spot on, awareness is crucial in the cession making process. Thanks for reminding me.

S Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 9:50am

Great blog Adrian thanks. It's something I think about a lot. I think I hide behind 'logic' and 'rational' sometimes when I can't figure out what I want or feel. I think it is a balance as LP says. Great comments too. Sx

The Gardener Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 10:15am

Thanks Adrian - just about to produce a 'paper' for the family so we can all make a major decision. The neuroscientist findings are spot on this morning for Mr G. I have tried an emotional appeal, citing his mother - only ever had one eye (Mr G has, but only recently - and through a self-induced accident). She was a widow for 25 years - she nursed HER husband for his last years until he had to go into a terrible home, ex workhouse. She lived alone and coped till aged 95 - indomitable courage - not a loveable lady - too critical. I have tried this appeal to Mr G because he has given the nurse and me hell this morning. Decisions will be based on finance, his state and my health. Emotionally it's awful - although the family know what I'm going through it's their DAD we're trying to discuss and do the best for, and my husband - and we must be objective, while the whole situation is subjective. RATG, you can't make proper decisions when ill - no hope of weighing up pros and cons. I try to do really important things when I'm 'good' usually mornings. I am angry, hurt and beaten about the head this morning, and the day is beautiful, which makes being angry worse. Will start a rough factual draft and then look again when more emotionally 'stable'.

Duma Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 11:25am

I'm with you on group decision making. An agenda list of pros and cons really helps. Good luck, Gardener.

Scarlett O Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 11:35am

How true this all rings, when I am not well I am paralysed by indecision, a polar opposite of well me, who is very decisive. It's reassuring to know there is a good reason I feel like this, thank you for posting.

Hopeful One Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 11:39am

Hi Adrian- (and to all the others who have wondered where I had disappeared for the last few days - I was on holiday in Myanmar absorbing Buddist Culture in the Theravada tradition)- I agree that emotions do play an important role in decision making but one place where they usually lead to serious consequences is if one is playing/ trading on the stock markets. This is one place where one should leave emotion behind and be prepared to cut one's losses and not be holding on to stocks for some emotionally driven reason .

The Joke Squadron was busy in Myanmar and swapped jokes with the local guide who told me this one.

Tourist to the guide." How and where did you learn to speak English?
Guide making the crackle sound as he replied" The World crackle crackle crackle Service of crackle of the crackle BBC."

Duma Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 1:55pm

Actual lol. Welcome back HO.

The Gardener Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 1:00pm

Hi HO, welcome back. Our second son went to Burma years ago when it was seriously difficult to travel (he's always worked in the Far East) he said it was a marvellous place, beautiful and still full of undiscovered treasures. Heard a lot about Buddhism last few days - seems a good precept to live by. Love your stocks and shares advice. We were always too scared rabbits to touch the stock exchange. Then we went to Malaya - first time - 15 years ago? It was obviously booming - Mr G impressed and was persuaded to buy quite a few shares. They went up - we should have sold - but Mr G, first time playing the market hoped for a fortune - shares went down, and down, only lost a couple of thousand pounds, but we definitely bought with our heart and not our head. In India, where we've spent a lot of time, they learn their English from American gangster movies - all have a horrendous 'twang'. A Singaporean plumber speaking English with a Chinese accent was a facer.

Eva Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 10:26pm

Ummm, I employ eanee meanee minie mo when I can't decide, (usually between menu selections but not exclusively) if it comes down to an option that I then have a gut feeling against I work out what I really want, and if I'm ambivalent then either is OK. I don't know what that says about my mental state. I guess this trick helps me to pin point my feelings towards the options. Sometimes I just want to try and experience so many things and I have to choose between them because of time or cost. Good blog thanks.

Eva Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 10:27pm

By the way is LP Lily Pet, or someone else? Just Checking :)

LP Mon, Sep 26th 2016 @ 1:41am

Hi Eva, LP is me, LillyPet! :) xx

Eva Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 10:39pm

And Frankie, I am so so sorry to hear about your mum and your auntie, my thoughts are with you, in particular having to cope with your sister, take some time for yourself in the time that follows to ensure that you have time to grieve and heal in a healthy way.

Frankie Sat, Sep 24th 2016 @ 11:31pm

Thanks Eva. I remember you lost your father a while ago. This is a timely reminder for me as so far I haven't been able to grieve properly given my sister's current binge ... Maybe soon ... Frankie x

the room above the garage Sun, Sep 25th 2016 @ 12:14pm

Frankie I hope you have some times when you can relinquish responsibility for your sister? I do not mean to be uncharitable but you cannot save her at your own expense, especially if she is yet unclear whether she is ready to be saved. Hard times xxx.

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