Emotions and Decision Making
Decision making is an everyday process in our lives that is handled differently by every individual. Think of the following scenario: your beloved pet is getting older and close to the end of his life expectancy; he has been displaying signs of being in pain and has trouble doing tasks of his daily living, such as going down the stairs to go outside, or bending his head to reach his food dish. So decision making enters your life once again. Do you take him to the veterinarian to be put down and end his suffering, or do you keep him alive until he passes naturally because his presence in your life brings you joy and the thought of putting him down is too difficult to bear? Which decision is the logical decision?
Wade and Tavris (2011) define emotions as a state of arousal involving facial and bodily changes, brain activation, cognitive appraisals, subjective feelings and tendencies toward action. Beyond the broad spectrum of emotions, are two more distinct sub-categories of emotions; primary and secondary emotions. Primary emotions are defined as those that are considered to be universal and biologically based and include fear, anger, sadness, joy, surprise, disgust and contempt; while secondary emotions cover the rest of the spectrum. These primary emotions seem to me to be the ones that most often affect our decision making ability.
One resource implies that our emotions have both direct and indirect affects on our decision making. (Loewnstein & Lerner, 2003) This resource uses an example of an individual who is trying to decide whether or not to move funds from their savings account into a high-risk stock fund. An emotion of fear, or anxiety, over the thought that the stock could fail could directly cause this individual to make the decision not to invest in this particular fund. Meanwhile, a feeling of joy over the prospect of positive uses for money gained from the fund, a laid back demeanor and an ability to shrug off...