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Do Emotions Help or Hurt Decisionmaking?

A Hedgefoxian Perspective

Kathleen D. Vohs, Roy F. Baumeister, George Loewenstein

Publication Year: 2007

Philosophers have long tussled over whether moral judgments are the products of logical reasoning or simply emotional reactions. From Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility to the debates of modern psychologists, the question of whether feeling or sober rationality is the better guide to decision making has been a source of controversy. In Do Emotions Help or Hurt Decision Making? Kathleen Vohs, Roy Baumeister, and George Loewenstein lead a group of prominent psychologists and economists in exploring the empirical evidence on how emotions shape judgments and choices. Researchers on emotion and cognition have staked out many extreme positions: viewing emotions as either the driving force behind cognition or its side effect, either an impediment to sound judgment or a guide to wise decisions. The contributors to Do Emotions Help or Hurt Decision Making? provide a richer perspective, exploring the circumstances that shape whether emotions play a harmful or helpful role in decisions. Roy Baumeister, C. Nathan DeWall, and Liqing Zhang show that while an individual’s current emotional state can lead to hasty decisions and self-destructive behavior, anticipating future emotional outcomes can be a helpful guide to making sensible decisions. Eduardo Andrade and Joel Cohen find that a positive mood can negatively affect people’s willingness to act altruistically. Happy people, when made aware of risks associated with altruistic acts, become wary of jeopardizing their own well-being. Benoît Monin, David Pizarro, and Jennifer Beer find that whether emotion or reason matters more in moral evaluation depends on the specific issue in question. Individual characteristics often mediate the effect of emotions on decisions. Catherine Rawn, Nicole Mead, Peter Kerkhof, and Kathleen Vohs find that whether an individual makes a decision based on emotion depends both on the type of decision in question and the individual’s level of self-esteem. And Quinn Kennedy and Mara Mather show that the elderly are better able to regulate their emotions, having learned from experience to anticipate the emotional consequences of their behavior. Do Emotions Help or Hurt Decision Making? represents a significant advance toward a comprehensive theory of emotions and cognition that accounts for the nuances of the mental processes involved. This landmark book will be a stimulus to scholarly debates as well as an informative guide to everyday decisions.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

About the Authors

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pp. vii-x

Part I. Overview

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pp. 1-2

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Introduction: The Hedgefox

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pp. 3-10

IN A PERHAPS overused metaphor, academics are sometimes classified as “hedgehogs” and “foxes.” Playing on a famous, albeit somewhat mysterious, statement by the seventh century BC philosopher Archilochus that “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one...

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1. Do Emotions Improve or Hinder the Decision Making Process?

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pp. 11-32

TO ARRIVE at a decision, people use both cognition and emotion. The cognitive aspects of decision making, including the use of such heuristics as availability, representativeness, and anchoring and adjustment, have received considerable attention (Epley and Gilovich 2001; Kahneman,...

Part 2. Integrative Frameworks

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pp. 33-34

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2. Affect-Based Evaluation and Regulation as Mediators of Behavior: The Role of Affect in Risk Taking, Helping, and Eating Patterns

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pp. 35-68

CONSIDER THE following dilemma: To get people’s attention and motivate action, a charity organization decides to use vivid pictures of orphaned and starving children in Africa along with somber background music. A primary research stream within the affect literature suggests,...

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3. Emotional Influence on Decision and Behavior: Stimuli, States, and Subjectivity

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pp. 69-92

HUMANS ARE passionate beings whose thoughts, decisions, and actions are shaped by emotion, sometimes with wonderful and sometimes with disastrous consequences. In this chapter we illustrate some of the major ways in which experimental psychologists, including ourselves,

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4. Feeling, Searching, and Preparing: How Affective States Alter Information Seeking

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pp. 93-116

INDIVIDUALS MAKE an astonishing number of decisions each day. They decide on mundane matters (what to wear, drink, and read), important matters (whether one has prepared enough for a test, whether to hire a person, and whether one is persuaded by an argument), and occasionally...

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5. The Role of Personality in Emotion, Judgment, and Decision Making

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pp. 117-132

STATEMENTS about how emotions influence judgment and decision making rarely apply to all persons equally. Individual differences and personality are ubiquitous in these processes, and, as a result, they provide an important context for determining whether emotions help or hurt decision...

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6. Emotion as Cognition: An Information-Processing View of the Mind

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pp. 133-154

SINCE THE time of Heraclitus in 500 BC, scholars have speculated on and investigated the role that emotions play in shaping human behavior and reasoning abilities. The number of theories of emotion generated since this time is as vast as it is varied: for example, they include David...

Part 3. Specific Mechanisms

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pp. 155-156

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7. The Effects of Self-Esteem and Ego Threat on Decision Making

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pp. 157-182

IT TAKES a constant stream of interpersonal decision making for people to be liked by others and to like themselves at the same time. Although often being liked and liking oneself go hand in hand, at times people make choices to give up on being liked in order to restore a positive selfimage...

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8. The Functions of Emotion in Decision Making and Decision Avoidance

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pp. 183-202

DECISIONS have long been thought to suffer from the irrational influence of emotions. Emotions have been portrayed as an illegitimate factor in legal decisions (Dworkin 1977). Greek and Roman philosophers suggested that people would make better decisions if they minimized...

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9. Emotion Regulation and Impluse Control: People Succumb to Their Impulses in Order to Feel Better

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pp. 203-216

ONE WAY in which emotions can affect decisions is by making people think and behave irrationally. In this view, emotion is the direct opposite of reason, causing people to make all sorts of bad decisions. For example, when people are jealous, they may commit crimes of passion,...

Part 4. Applications

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pp. 217-218

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10. Reason and Emotion in Moral Judgment: Different Prototypes Lead to Different Theories

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pp. 219-244

ONE CAN not study the relationship between emotions and decisions without including an analysis of moral judgement, both because many significant decisions that individuals make every day involve morality, and because an increasingly influential school of thought stresses the...

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11. Aging, Affect, and Decision Making

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pp. 245-266

OLDER ADULTS are faced with complex decisions, particularly medical and financial decisions, which can carry high levels of risk and have important consequences for their quality of life. Do older adults make decisions any differently than younger adults? Decision making involves...

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12. Affect and Cognition as a Source of Motivation: A New Model and Evidence from Natural Experiments

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pp. 267-294

WHEN WORKING toward completion of a long-term project, individuals make effort choices. Many important stages in life involve working on such long-term projects; examples include completing an education, working toward a promotion, working out to lose weight, or000

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13. The Impact of Emotions on Wage Setting and Unemployment

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pp. 295-314

TRADITIONALLY, models of economic decision making assume that individuals are rational and emotionless. However, the neglect of emotion in economic models explains their inability to predict important aggregate outcomes in the labor market. This is demonstrated by the...

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14. The Mind and the Body: Subjective Well-Being in an Objective World

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pp. 315-344

FOLLOWING an afternoon of intense lovemaking with General Scheisskopf’s wife, Captain Yossarian, the hero of Joseph Heller’s Catch- 22, argues with his lover about the role of God in creating life’s miseries....


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pp. 345-358

E-ISBN-13: 9781610445436
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871548771
Print-ISBN-10: 0871548771

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2007