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10 May 2010

Decisions: Practical Implications of Intuition and Emotions

The important practical implication of intuition and emotions in decision making is this: if we don’t grasp the underlying emotions and how intuition is driving a decision, then we really don’t understand the decision. That means we expose ourselves unnecessarily to error.

Said another way, no matter how logical or reasonable a decision might seem its tap root is still emotional. Any appearance of logic or reason is purely cosmetic. Looked upon another way, the rationale becomes the “excuse” justifying a basically emotional decision.

This even extends to the scientific method and statistical analysis. You don’t need either to arrive at a good decision. They are rationales allowing the expression of certain emotions, many rooted in the need to feel secure about a decision. Therefore, a person’s intuition will encourage the selection of science and statistics to satisfy security needs.

In everyday life, we will tend to observe the implications of intuition and emotions in decision making when we present a rationale that trumps the one being presented and the decision does not change. We will also tend to observe extremely contorted rationales simply to justify a decision. This is the origination of the derisive expression, “You’re just rationalizing your decision.”

As an example, take a sales situation. If we base our sales presentation on what appears to be the inherent logic of that person’s objections rather than the intuition and emotions driving them, failure is quite possible: we address the logic but gain no decision to move forward. In the end, we might even conclude that the person is simply being unreasonable. However, we are projecting; it’s unreasonable to expect reason to prevail in decision-making rooted in emotions.

4 Responses

  1. I think you are right. People look at all the logic, and in the end, make an emotional decision. Interestingly, here in North Africa, people don’t even make a pretense of looking at anything logically, or even think of the consequences. They base all decisions upon their emotional feelings of the moment (which are usually things like revenge, greed, love, jealousy, etc.)

    1. Thank you, Lynne, I got a chuckle out of your comment that “in North Africa, people don’t even make a pretense of looking at anything logically.” I appreciate you stopping by for a visit. We’ll have to get caught up here real soon.

    1. Mike Lehr

      Yes, Murphy, it can save time. I would also say it saves a lot of mental anguish. Often, we put ourselves through mental gymnastics trying to rationalize what we want.

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