The role of emotion in decision-making

From the Journal of Biomedical informatics published in 2006

The role of emotion in decision-making: A cognitive neuroeconomic approach towards understanding sexual risk behavior

The paper evidences the emotional aspect of decision-making and its role within a new framework of investigation, called neuroeconomics. The paper outlines some new predictive and descriptive models that show the interplay between cognitive and emotive drivers. These models are used to help improve the issues of public health, with illustrative examples on young adults’ safe sex practices.

Edgar Henry Schein, a former professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, developed a model that illustrated how we can fall into perceptional traps. Here’s how it works…

Typically, when faced with a predicament, the human psyche follows a pattern.

  • We Observe and get a picture of what is going on.
  • We React emotionally to our understanding of what’s happening.
  • We Judge, and draw conclusions based on our understanding and how it makes us feel and then:
  • We Intervene, making decisions and taking action based on what we see, feel and conclude.

However each stage is potentially limiting and biased depending upon our own point of view:

  • We Observe what we want to see, thereby reinforcing our own belief systems and status.
  • We React how we always react and we don’t apply emotional intelligence.
  • We Judge, based on the rules we know rather than exploring new ones
  • We Intervene, making decisions and taking action based on our individual view of the world.

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