The Role of Emotions in Decisions

The Role of Emotions in Decisions

Choice by Kevin Doyle
Choice by Kevin Doyle

We all know that we’ve made decisions driven by emotion rather than logic. Buying the car that looked nicer, for example.

Yet, in economic theory, decision-making is often modelled as based on cost-benefit calculations. While perceived value is a major driver of purchases, that perception can have both cognitive and emotional motivations. We may feel more satisfied to get a deal or sale, for example, even if it’s contrived. And we’re often attracted to appearance or social perception over utility. How does the car make us look to others? Is that narrative even true? Do others care enough about our car for that to be a deciding factor?

Buying real estate is often the largest transaction of our lives, yet people can make very emotional decisions. Like getting caught up in popularity contests (a bidding war) or deciding based on a single feature that could easily be changed, like the colour of paint in a room.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio proposed the “somatic marker hypothesis” to describe this incentive. When we face conflicting or complex choices, we can shift into emotional values.

Yet Damasio defined emotions as “changes in both body and brain states in response to stimuli.” That’s a pretty materialist take on emotions. But these physical changes related to emotions can be mapped scientifically.

This illustrates how the obvious in human experience can be difficult to establish by science when it relies solely on a physical paradigm. Psychology as a whole faces this issue.

Trust in your direct experience and learn to heal so your perception is clearer and your motivations cleaner. Then life becomes fuller and richer.

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  1. Peter Goodman

    David –
    The key … Trust in your direct experience and learn to heal so your perception is clearer and your motivations cleaner. Then life becomes fuller and richer.

    Thank you very much.
    Peter Goodman

  2. Lew

    Any insights and opinions on the solar eclipse? ….. and the effects on the emotions and spiritual development? Also a lot is going on with therapists etc. getting into psychedelics…. and many looking to them for spiritual development. What do you you think?

    1. Hi Lew
      Well, the eclipse is happening in a part of the sky where there’s a lot going on. It’s also near the end of the zodiac and the same day as the Vedic lunar new year. The effects will depend on your own chart. See:

      On psychedelics, I saw that at SAND. They’re reality altering and can traumatize the physiology so I wouldn’t recommend them for spiritual growth. I’ve seen people really messed up by them. It’s more about chasing experiences. As a therapy, I don’t know enough about that but it was explored back in the 60’s and made illegal.

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