RE: So You Think You're Rational?

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Mon Nov 26 2001 - 14:38:21 MST wrote,
> <<Rational Decisions Guided by Emotion - Study

I'm afraid I can't agree with the conclusions of these researchers (as
presented in this article). Their research did NOT show that emotions are
used in making logical decisions. It seemed to show the opposite. What am
I missing?

The so-called logical decisions were those which would affect their own
lives. These had an emotional response. The subjects were specifically
instructed to make decisions based on how it would affect them personally.
These were not what I would call rational decisions. The same paragraph
even notes that when they were asked to make the decision purely on cost
instead of personal factors, their was less emotional response. This would
be a rational decision. The choice as to which brand one prefers is
emotional. The choice as to which brand is cheapest is rational.

The article stated that people with damage to their emotion centers of the
brain can't make simple decisions such as scheduling a doctor's appointment,
whether to wear a seatbelt, or which product to buy for themselves. That's
an emotional preference. They can't choose which option they would prefer
for themselves. It goes on to say that they have no trouble making these
decisions for other people. Apparently their logic works fine for other

It appears that these so-called rational decisions are unaffected by
emotion. It is only when the decision is going to make a change in the
quality of one's personal life, and requires one to express a preference for
one option over another, that the emotions come into play. This seems to
fit the definition of rational versus emotional decisions. As far as I can
tell, this research proves that emotions are NOT needed for rational
decisions, but they are require to develop personal preferences.

Instead of saying that rational decisions require emotions, I think it would
be more accurate to say that expressing personal preferences for one thing
over another requires emotion.

Harvey Newstrom <>
Principal Security Consultant, Newstaff Inc. <>
Board of Directors, Extropy Institute <>
Cofounder, Pro-Act <>

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