I recently came across a very interesting post on Facebook, written in Romanian. This post especially caught my attention first of all because it had been made by a group very dear to me, Yourself; secondly, the topic was exactly the one I was thinking about for my next article. It’s about the role of emotions in decision-making. To be honest, this is something I’ve been studying for a while and I’ve been struggling to synthesize the main ideas for an article. But this post had it all: it is clear, concise, easy to read and definitely not boring.
I now have a very good starting point for my article. So in the meantime, I thought, why not translate it? 🙂
“When we were small it was easy to write letters to Santa, because we knew exactly what we wanted and we made choices with no difficulty. But as we grew older, things got a bit more complicated; the further we navigate the path to maturity and complexity of life, the more it becomes a challenge to make up our minds.
Why is it sometimes so hard to make choices?; Why do we get anxious and agitated whenever we have to face the impossibility of making a decision? Perhaps it comes down to the fact that the process of decision-making involves many options, and taking the variables into consideration involves both reason and emotions.
The logical process of decision-making is based on determining the value of each option. We often try to rule out as many emotional aspects as possible, to detach from them, and to evaluate each alternative in a logical, almost mathematical, way.
On the other hand, decisions we make in particular emotional states, such as when we are angry or extremely happy, are said to be “in the heat of the moment”. So, which one of these two alternatives represents the best way of making a decision?
Antonio Damasio, a Neuroscience specialist, performed studies on people with deficits in the prefrontal cortex (which is responsible for decision-making, among other cognitive functions) and the cortical structures involved in generating emotions. These people would hardly make even the simplest decisions, such as choosing between fish or chicken as a meal, going shopping, taking a walk etc. He also noted that these individuals were able to reasonably evaluate the consequences of their choices and objectively analyze the alternatives, but could not or it was extremely difficult to make any decision, no matter how simple they were.
Going back to the idea of multiple variables in decision-making, emotions are part of these variables and it is important to acknowledge their role in this process. Life is full of choices and decisions, and we have to face them all. Moreover, if our decisions are based on strong moral values, we will find the necessary means to deal with any potential challenge, regardless the final choice (which we could be quite uncertain about).”
I hope you enjoyed it! 🙂
Drawing by James Dowinton