Emotions Before Reason

Emotional instincts dominate, ie information is screened first on emotions - how it makes me feel - and later on logic; quick to jump to conclusion/judgment based on initial emotional reaction; negative news is given top priority. The brain first receives messages at the amygdale - the emotional processing part of the brain - before messages are received by the neocortex ‐ the rational processing part of the brain. The challenge is to influence people's immediate response to change ‐ before reason sets in; people make sense of events based on how they make them feel & this impacts on motivation & performance. We are more productive when positive.

Many times we are not rational in our thinking. Rational conveys an image of greater deliberation, more calculation & less warmth; with a person's beliefs and preferences being reasonable. Yet non-psychologists, especially economists, look at rationality as being internally consistent rather than reasonable. Humans are not irrational but need help to make more accurate judgements and better decisions. To be rational requires more effort and we suffer from myopia (The Economist, 2104j), ie the failure to give adequate weight to future benefits over a immediate pleasures/short-term gain/instant gratification/immediate satisfaction. Examples of myopia

i) people choosing not to save for old age, ie spend now

ii) exposing themselves to addictive substances, ie get short-term "kick" but long-term pain, eg smoking (nicotine addiction plus long-term health problems like cancer, heart, etc). Similar story for alcohol, other additive drugs, etc

iii) people sun baking to become tanned in the short term but exposing themselves to risk of skin cancer in the long term

iv) only 1 in 9 people who underwent heart surgery changed their life-style; yet these people had the ultimate motivation, ie possible death

v) people who drive vehicles after drinking alcohol &/or taking other drugs)


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