Reason and Emotion

Ever been accused of making an overly emotional decision, without any logical reason? Ever been accused of being Mr. Spock, all logic and no emotion? What I am wondering is why do we (western civ. thinkers) persist in thinking that decision making is an either-or proposition? I believe that emotion is in fact reason, on steriods. Emotion comes from the culmination of all of life’s experience, but it is pre-processed in such a way that it is ready to respond at a moments notice. Most of the time this is a great advantage. I think we should all learn to be more comfortable trusting our emotions and instincts.

On the other hand, cool, collected logic and reason allows us to deal with new situations we have not confronted before. We process more slowly than emotional response, because we are taking more time gathering data. Of course it is impossible to gather all the data, so ultimately even "logical decisions" rely on some amount of embedded knowledge (emotion) to reach a conclusion.

The moral of the story? There is no such thing as a purely emotional or purely logical decision. So pay attention when you accuse someone of making an "emotional" decision, that may in fact be the best way to make the decision. And don’t make the mistake of believing that the "logical thinker" is devoid of emotional components in their decision-making, all decisions are emotional, because no one has all the data.

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One Response

  1. You would probably like the book “Blink” which discusses quick, “gut feel” decision making. Also, I read recently that big life decisions are best made unconsciously over a good night’s sleep rather than by an agonizing logical process (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8732&feedId=online-news_rss20).

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