Neuroscientists Reveal Decisions Are Largely Emotionally Based, Not Logically

By January 6, 2019 Psychology

Have you ever stopped to consider how many decisions you make on a daily basis? You may surprise yourself! Even more interesting, however, is the science behind how you came to a final conclusion.

The thought process behind decision making is one that has fascinated scientists and researchers, encouraged by a corporate America mentality. After all, if we can understand how the average American makes a decision in their lives, we can then make an effort to alter or shift this decision, right?

Take a look at the world of marketing – While some products are sold to us based on a very logical basis, the most effective, cheapest or best quality items, others appeal to our emotional side triggering feelings about the product and how it will change our lives. Which approach is going to be the most successful? Neuroscientists are now revealing that our decisions are, in almost all cases, based on our emotions.

It is this revelation when it comes to the operation of the human brain that neuroscientists Antonio Damasio has recently focused his attention on. A Professor of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Philosophy at the University of Southern California and an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute, there is no questioning the fact that Damasio has an incredible understanding of the way the human brain works. He’s a leader in his field, influencing the work of scientists and researchers around the globe.

However, of all his work, the theory that has captured the world’s attention the most as of late was the conclusion that when we make a decision, we do so based on our emotional reaction and not logical reasoning. As much as we may tell ourselves that we are marking a rational decision, often the truth is completely the opposite.

This doesn’t just apply to the more major emotional decisions like whether to break up with your current partner, it applies to every decision we make in our lives. In fact, it arguably impacts every area of your life. Consider, for a moment, how did you choose your current career. Was it completely based on earning potential and other such logical factors? While you may like to convince yourself this is the case, the odds are that there’s an emotional trigger behind your choice – it makes you feel good, or it triggers emotions related to some experience in your past. Are you married? You certainly didn’t make that choice solely based on logic, weighing the pros and cons of the financial implications, the assistance you would have around the home versus additional housework, etc. No, you followed your heart.

“One day I asked myself, What is missing in a person who can pass an intelligence test with flying colors but can’t even organize his own life? Such patients can hold their own in completely rational arguments but fail, for example, to avoid a situation involving unnecessary risk,” Damasio explained. “These kinds of problems mainly occur after an injury to the forebrain. As our tests prove, the result is a lack of normal emotional reactions. I continue to be fascinated by the fact that feelings are not just the shady side of reason but that they help us to reach decisions as well.”

How can this knowledge prove to be helpful in your own life? Not only can it help you to understand why you make certain decisions, therefore, empowering you to make smarter choices in life – for example, you may be able to minimize or avoid impulse purchases when out shopping, it will also help you to better understand the thought processes of others. If you are trying to help someone see your side of a debate or discussion, you can use this to your advantage. Don’t waste your time focusing solely on logic and reasoning. Instead, appeal to their emotional side for much better results.

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