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Emotional Choice May Be Best

When choosing a flavor of ice cream, an item of clothing, or even a home, you might be better off letting your emotions guide you, finds a new study.

“Our current research supports theories in evolutionary psychology that propose that our emotions can be conceived as a set of ‘programs’ that have evolved over time to help us solve important recurrent problems with speed and accuracy, whether it is to fall in love or to escape from a predator,” write authors Leonard Lee On Amir and Dan Ariely.

“We investigated the following question: To what extent does relying on one’s feelings versus deliberative thinking affect the consistency of one’s preferences?” write the authors.

To get at the question, the authors designed experiments where participants studied and chose among 8-10 products, sometimes relying upon their emotional reactions and sometimes calling upon cognitive skills.

Their conclusion: “Emotional processing leads to greater preference consistency than cognitive processing.”

The researchers made some additional discoveries about eliciting consistent choices from participants.

The study participants tended to make more consistent choices when products were represented by pictures instead of names; when pictures were in color (rather than black and white); when participants were encouraged to trust their feelings when making their choices; when the participants had greater cognitive constraints (i.e., when they were asked to memorize a ten-digit number as opposed to a two-digit one); and when the products tended to be more exciting (a pen with a built-in FM radio receiver) rather than functional (an LED book light).

It seems the old adage “trust your heart” is true for consumers.

“If one buys a house and relies on very cognitive attributes such as resale value, one may not be as happy actually purchasing it,” write the authors.

“Indeed, our results suggest that the heart can very well serve as a more reliable compass to greater long-term happiness than pure reason.”

The report is found in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Source: University of Chicago Press Journals

Emotional Choice May Be Best

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Emotional Choice May Be Best. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 12, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/02/24/emotional-choice-may-be-best/4304.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.