2005VohsBaumeisterTice.doc - How Emotion Helps and Hurts Decision Making Roy F Baumeister Florida State University Kathleen D Vohs University of British

2005VohsBaumeisterTice.doc - How Emotion Helps and Hurts...

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How Emotion Helps and Hurts Decision Making Roy F. Baumeister Florida State University Kathleen D. Vohs University of British Columbia Dianne M. Tice Florida State University
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How emotions influence decision making p. 2 A long tradition of folk wisdom assumes that emotions make for bad decisions. Being emotionally upset, in particular, is seen as causing people to do foolish, irrational things that they will likely regret later on. The legal system has accepted that view as valid, to the extent that crimes committed in the heat of passion are punished less severely than others (Averill, 1982). Even psychological research has provided some evidence that emotional states can cause people to make choices that lead to irrational or self-destructive outcomes (e.g., Leith & Baumeister, 1996). Seemingly against that view, evidence has recently converged from multiple perspectives to argue that emotions can also be helpful for decision making. Perhaps the most dramatic evidence comes from studies of individuals who because of brain damage lack normal emotional reactions. The absence of emotion does not turn these people into paragons of wise, dispassionate, rational decision making. Au contraire, these individuals without emotions seem unable to make choices in a coherent manner or to learn from their mistakes (Damasio, 1994). The implication is that emotions serve some positive function for decision making. This chapter will seek to provide a theoretical framework that can account for both the harm and the benefit to decision making that emotions can cause. That is, instead of taking one side of the debate as to whether emotions are good or bad for choosing, we will seek to reconcile the seemingly contradictory findings. In order to do that, however, we think it is useful to take a step back and ask why the link between emotion and decision making is generally investigated by exploring how the former affects the latter. Why not the reverse? That is, why do so few researchers ask about the effects of decision making on emotion? There are two easy and pretty good
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How emotions influence decision making p. 3 answers, but we think neither is ultimately satisfying. The first answer is that decision making does not directly or necessarily cause any emotion. People may have plenty of emotions as a result of their decisions, but these emotions are in reaction to external events (how things fared as a result of the decision), not to the inner decision process itself. It is not surprising that little research looks for emotions arising directly from the decision process, because perhaps there is not generally much to find. Yet we think that the emotional reactions to outcomes that stem from decisions are a crucial part of the process.
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