Emotional Thinking - Part 1

Many people consider feelings and emotions to be counter to decision-making. Decisions are rational outcomes arrived at by carefully considering all of the facts. Emotions are just feelings. They have no proven logic behind them. They follow arbitrary rules and are subject to circumstance. We can easily separate the real from the imagined, and arrive at a calculated conclusion.

But the truth is, even the most logical of us make decisions based on emotion.

Think about it. We are not machines. We’re not hard-wired for logic. We are organic things, formed and refined over millions of years to feel and act on those feelings. Over the millennia those emotional responses have worked better than logic alone ever could to keep us alive and flourishing in the formative years of our species. 

Logic would have been a dangerous luxury when we were just beginning our journey. We had no time to research or test or ponder. There was no empirical evidence to consider. 

Emotions were the tools that let us learn and react to future dangers. They kept us bonded together as cooperative groups. They let us identify and avoid possible new threats ranging from animals and weather events to disease and allowed us to transfer knowledge to others quickly. They also caused us to question and discover, to go against the grain, to break with others, and to hurt. They are what makes us human, and by definition, the engine that propels every one of us through life, year to year, day to day, moment to moment.

I hear the rational thinkers saying “Wait a moment now! I have emotions, yes, but they clearly don't play a part in my decision-making. I am conscious of my emotions and carefully put them aside to logically come to a conclusion.”

Possibly. But consider this:

In the early 2000s, António Damásio, the David Dornsife Chair of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, studied people with damage to their amygdalae, the parts of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that they seemed normal, except they were not able to feel emotions. But, they all had something peculiar in common: they couldn’t make decisions. They could describe what they should be doing in logical terms, yet they found it very difficult to make even simple decisions, such as what to eat. 

Many decisions have pros and cons on both sides—should I have the chicken or the turkey? With no rational way to decide, these test subjects were unable to arrive at a decision. So, at the point of decision, emotions are very important for choosing. 

In fact, even with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably always based on emotion. 

The bottom line is this, we are wired. Not for logic, but for emotionally-based thinking that’s allowed us to adapt quickly, flourish and progress to the modern era. It guides us in all the decision-making we do, whether that be a carefully weighed decision on who to vote for president, what new product or service I need in my life, or what to have for lunch.

In part 2, we will examine how emotional thinking applies to branding and messaging, and how Alipes can help uncover customers' unconscious feelings about your brand.

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