30-Second Psychology: The 50 Most Thought-provoking Psychology Theories, Each Explained in Half a Minute - Christian Jarrett 2011
Damasio’s emotional decision making
Decision Making & Emotions
In the late 1970s, American neurologist Antonio Damasio noticed something peculiar in several of his patients. When certain parts of their brains were damaged, people with otherwise normal brain function found it difficult to make decisions. For example, one of his patients spent half an hour deliberating on the best time for his next appointment, until Damasio finally just told him when to show up. Subsequent experiments convinced Damasio that the damaged areas in these patients’ brains were responsible for connecting emotions with knowledge and logic. Since emotions are generally experienced somatically (physically), he called his explanation of decision making the somatic marker hypothesis. When patients with damaged prefrontal cortices were shown emotional images, such as mutilated bodies or people having sex, their heart rate and other vital signs did not increase, as they do in people with undamaged brains. Similarly, these patients could not master a simple gambling game, losing all their money when normal people saw how to profit from it. The somatic marker hypothesis says the prefrontal cortex stores knowledge about emotions — such as the negative feelings associated with losing money — that helps us to make good decisions. Good decisions aren’t just logical, they’re emotional, too.
Do you make decisions using cool logic or hot emotions? Probably both.
The specific brain area associated with the somatic marker hypothesis is the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, just behind and above your eyes. Aside from observing the impairments in his patients, Damasio reasoned that it makes sense for this region to be involved in decision making. It not only receives inputs from all our senses, but also connects with emotional centres of the brain in the hippocampus and amygdala — and it’s a part of the frontal lobe, where reasoning occurs.
EKMAN’S UNIVERSAL EMOTIONS
KAHNEMAN & TVERSKY’S PROSPECT THEORY
Try to make a cool, calm, considered decision, and it might be a poorer one than if you’d allowed your emotions to kick in.