The importance of emotions in making decisions

By Ahmer Zuberi
Fri, 10, 20

According to Haidt (2006), we should realise that there’s a tug and war between our thoughts and our emotions before we reach a conclusion....


With every decision we take, every judgement we make, there is a battle in our mind – a battle between intuition and logic. This conflict affects every aspect of our life from what we eat to what we believe, and especially to how we spend our money. And the intuitive mind is a lot more powerful than we may think.

What is it that persuades people in deciding to go ahead with something? Whether it is us deciding words to articulate our thoughts or a retirement plan, we pick and choose our next course of action every minute. It helps us weigh up risks and reliable moments, to see what’s wrong and what’s right, what works and what doesn’t based on the data we have.

According to Haidt (2006), we should realise that there’s a tug and war between our thoughts and our emotions before we reach a conclusion. If we remain calm, we can almost sense our rational thinking telling us to consider consequences of anything we do; at other times, our emotions override the decision-making system, having us behave impulsively.

We may not admit it, but we usually behave spontaneously. In fact, the very reason that we cannot monitor our reactions also causes misunderstandings between us and other people.

Kiverstein (2012) pointed out that what people believe to be their respective driving force for completing a task is basically nothing except fabrication of their minds. They are not self-aware to resolve a problem and so the mind resorts to feeding them information to help them deal with the problem at hand.

This is serious because if we are not free as we believe in making our own decisions, our emotions would hinder our growth with self-destructive behaviour. For instance, addiction is often caused by depression and anxiety. But again, to be able to feel these painful emotions is what makes us human.

The more we look beyond what appears to be, the closer we get to our emotional side of the brain, and the more we are in a position to understand the origin of a mental illness like addiction. When we have a clearer vision of human nature in general and of our own unconscious wishes in particular, we can quit being victims and sabotaging our positive efforts.